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Allegory of the Cave and John Dewey

In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato points to various instances of appearance and various instances of reality. Appearance is found in the following instances, referring to those at the bottom of the cave:

1) the shadows on the wall are only appearance

2) the vessels, statues, and figures of animals

3) the echo from the other side they think is a voice from a passing shadow

4) the objects which make the shadows are also appearances

5) the firelight is mistaken for sunlight

6) reflection of objects in the water

9) the life at the bottom of the cave

Reality is to be found outside the cave in the ideal objects of which the objects carried by the people above are only imitations, with the shadows being a further step away from reality. Instances of reality include:

2) the reality rather than the reflection

3) the ascent of the soul to the upper reaches

4) what the philosopher sees outside the cave

5) what the prisoner tells his compatriots when he returns

6) the fact that they do not believe him

7) that which is ascertained by reason

9) the ability of the philosopher to learn

10) the desire to rise to the upper reaches

Reality becomes appearance through the eyes, and two causes are given by Plato--coming out of the light or going into the light. The man who comes out of the light cannot see because he is not accustomed to the dark, and the man who comes into the light is blinded by it because he has been accustomed to the dark.

The man at the bottom of the cave sees only the shadow of the imitation of reality. If he looks upward, he is blinded by the light from the sun. If he rises and looks back down, he sees how dark the cave below really is and comes to understand why his fellows have been blinded and cannot see the reality that is above them. He may see the objects and those carrying them as reality, but this is because he has mistaken them for reality and...

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Allegory of the Cave and John Dewey. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:30, January 20, 2019, from