Platos Allegory of the Cave.
In Plato‘s “The Allegory of the Cave,” Socrates tells an allegory of the hardship of understanding reality. Using metaphors Socrates compares a prisoner in an underground cave who is exploring a new strange world he never knew of to people who are trying to find a position of knowledge in reality. Through it, Plato attempts to map a man’s journey through education and describes what is needed to achieve a perfect society. According to Socrates, most people tend to rely on their senses excessively and accept the world as it is appears to them in their vision as truth.
So that we can liberate our souls from this mental prison, Socrates suggests that we should go through a stage that prepares ourselves for the real world and at the same time preventing us from heading to the wrong direction in seeking the truth. According to Socrates the only way to achieve this would be through education. To accomplish this Plato presents the reader with two different elements of the story. First the fictional metaphor of the prisoners within the cave and second the philosophical principles in which the allegory is supposed to symbolize.
The captive prisoners are bound within a cave that is completely darkened inside. A small fire casting the “shadow of the spectacle” on the wall of the cave is the only reality that the prisoners know. Because the prisoners are bound and can see nothing else but the shadows, that then is their reality. The cave dwellers are using the light of the fire to control what the captives see and believe as reality. It is only when a captive has knowledge of what true reality is that they can free themselves from captivity.
When a captive frees themselves from the cave and sees what was creating the shadows on the wall, the new images in front of him become his new reality. When the prisoner sees the light of the sun shining through the cave opening he climbs through to investigate. Now fully immersed in the suns rays the former captive experiences bewilderment, fear, and blindness to the objects he was now being told were real. When the freed captive goes back into the cave to tell the other prisoners about what he has seen, they don’t believe him and want to kill him for challenging their reality.
If someone is lied to all their lives and then suddenly they are told the truth and what they previously believed was false, they wont believe at first and will even be scared and want to return to their old ways but will gradually come to believe in their new reality. Within the Allegory of the cave, tangible objects are presented in a way that is meant to represent something different. The esoteric presentation was intended for the intelligent educated upper class. The fire in the allegory of the cave represents false light, whereas the sun represents true reality. The shadows being cast on the wall represent a form a social control.
The puppets and the chains that are creating the shadows represent the tools, which the cave dwellers use to control the prisoners reality. When the prisoner is in half-light they are being manipulated, when they are in the full light of the sun they question reality. Reflections are used to symbolize looking critically at himself. The prisoner ascending the cave opening represents becoming educated and the new reality that comes after one becomes educated. An example of a time when I was in a metaphoric cave came when I mistakenly thought that becoming a real estate agent was going to be quick and easy money.
During the recent real estate boom I saw how lots of houses were selling fast and how much the agents were earning in commissions. I came to believe that if I got my real estate license I would be able to jump on the bandwagon and be on the fast track to a large bank account. Little did I realize that many thousands of other people had the same thought as me and decided to get their real estate license during the same time, so the local market became inundated with lots of inexperienced. I consider these people my fellow captives in the cave.
Later I gradually learned that in order to become a real success in real estate you not only have to have a decent cash reserve on hand to pay for expenses, you have to make an enormous time commitment and stick to it. Most of the agents who have enjoyed success have had many years of experience and have created a client base that generates business for them on a regular basis, but this only came after many years of hard work. The most important point that I have become enlightened about in having a successful real estate career is that you have to go out and get the business yourself because the business wont necessarily come to you.
When I was wrong about how difficult it was to be a success in real estate I was a captive in the cave. The prisoner that escaped the cave only to return later could be compared to an acquaintance of mine who had left the real estate game before me. When he returned he told me to leave and get a job at the company he worked for because it was becoming harder and harder for new agents to make consistent good money in this field. My reality was that if I stuck to it a little longer I would make some big money so I was irritated that he was suggesting that I leave real estate.
This situation can compare to the captives still in the cave not believing what the escaped captive had seen outside the cave and wanting to kill him for challenging their reality. The shadows on the wall were the illusion of being to be able to make a lot of money quickly in the real estate business. The cave dwellers that are casting the shadows can be compared to the broker of the real estate agency telling me how much money I can make without revealing at first the amount of resources will be involved.
As I learned and gained experience in real estate I am climbing metaphorically out of the cave and into the sunlight where true reality is revealed of exactly how difficult it is to make money as a real estate agent. Even though I am still practicing real estate, I have come to the realization that it is going to take time and determination to enjoy any success. Plato’s allegory of the Cave is a good analogy to the journey I took from darkness to light in realizing that being a real estate agent is not as easy as everyone would like you to believe.