Image Credits: Negative Space/Vojtech Okenka.
Dr. Phil Osagie
The most famous allegory in philosophy is Plato’s cave. It is an allegory of shadows vs reality. Substance vs imagination.
The story is about prisoners who have always lived in a certain cave and have no knowledge of the outside world. All they can see are shadows thrown up the wall by the light of a fire. They see shadows of lions and think they are real lions. They see shadows of trees, flowers and even people and think they are all real.
One day one of the prisoners somehow found a way to escape and get out into the open air and dazzling sunlight. For for the first time sees everything properly illuminated. He sees actual flowers. He sees stars and all the beauty of the universe.
Out of compassion, the man decides to leave this wonderful new world and make his way back into the cave to enlighten his fellow prisoners.
When he arrived, because he was not used to the cave anymore he was stumbling along the way. And the prisoners ridiculed him. When he tried to explain to them what the real sun is or what a real tree is, the cave dwellers ridiculed him even more. They first got sarcastic, then very angry and eventually plotted to kill him.
For Plato, most of us are in caves and shadows for much of our lives. But we don’t have to remain there.
- Dr. Phil Osagie is a Global Content + PR Strategist at JSP Communications