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Allegory of the cave in The Republic

Plato in the allegory of the cave in The Republic and emphasizes that the philosopher must return to the cave to understand the relationship between the ideal and its projection in this world. Plato's conception of the existence of Forms as the ideals of the imperfect objects and ideas of this world derived in part from the ongoing discussion in Greek philosophy over change versus permanence. The allegory also relates to issues of epistemology as to what we can know and how we can know it. The cave becomes the touchstone, the example that serves to demonstrate the relationship between the idea and the reality, between perception and reality, between the perfection of the idea and the imperfection of the reality. Plato is attempting to attain the ideal as much as possible by making this philosophical inquiry.

Machiavelli, however, has accepted the idea that the individual will never attain perfection, and instead he has decided to remain in the cave and to accept the prevailing ethos and only to be more successful with it. The question is raised whether this means that Machiavelli has divorced political science from ethics or only redefined ethics in his own terms. An assessment of machiavelli and his expression of this philosophy in The Prince has import for the world today, a world where the idea of realpolitik mirrors much of Machiavellian thought.


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Allegory of the cave in The Republic. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:31, July 07, 2020, from