Plato, Republic (380 BC), Book VII, “The Allegory of the Cave” 1

Plato, Republic (380 BC), Book VII, “The Allegory of the Cave” 1. How are the prisoners first presented to us in the cave? What are they doing? 2. Who else, besides the prisoners are in the cave with them? And how do they spend their time? What are they doing in the cave? 3. How is the cave structured? How does Socrates visually describe it to us? (As an allegory, a story that is meant to ‘stand in’ for something else, what do the different levels of the cave represent?) 4. Is there anything outside of the cave?  5. Also, as an allegory, and keeping in mind our focus on Ethics, what does the Sun represent? What does the light represent? And also, what does darkness represent? Lastly, what about the shadows in the cave? What do they represent? 6.  Keeping in mind the central question for Plato (and Socrates by extension), ‘How best to live a life?’, what is the Good in the story? And what is the ‘good life?’ What is the ideal, or best way to live, according to Socrates? 7. And also, what does Socrates mean when he says in the following quote: ‘…an eye cannot be turned around from darkness to light except by turning the whole body…’ p.5. (the final page of your reading). 8. And finally, I would like you to think about the world today. How might ‘The Allegory of the Cave’ relate to some of the current ethical questions or issues that we face, or that others face? (Think broadly about the different ways that we can interpret the allegory today, in our contemporary society?).

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