Skip to main content
×
Home

EikaΣia and πiΣtiΣ in Plato's Cave Allegory

  • Corinne Praus Sze (a1)
Abstract

This allegory (R.,514 a 1–517 a 6) is among the most well-traversed passages in Plato's dialogues and deservedly so. Its emotional impact is undeniable, yet it confronts the reader with several problems of interpretation. There is a strong sense that it is of central importance to the crucial questions of the Platonic philosopher's education and his role in society, and it possibly holds one key to an understanding of the Republic as a whole.

Copyright
References
Hide All

1 Nettleship R. L., Lectures on the Republic of Plato, pp. 238–63.Adam J., The Republic of Plato, ii. 8895, 156–63. More recently defended by Raven J. E., ‘Sun, Divided Line, and Cave’, CQ N.S. 3 (1953), 2232;Gould J., The Development of Plato's Ethics, pp. 165–81;Malcolm J., ‘The Line and the Cave’, Phronesis 7 (1962), 3845.

2 Subsequently so called, R. 534 a 1–2.

3 Adam , op. cit., p. 163.

4 510 a 1–6 inline-graphicinline-graphic

5 518 b 6–519 b 5; 521 c 5–8; 524 e 6–525 a 2.

6 Jowett B. and Campbell L., Plato's Republic, ii. 1219.Robinson R., Plato's Earlier Dialectic 2 (1953), pp. 180201.

7 Plato's Simile of Light’, CQ 16 (1922), 1528.Plato's Simile of Light Again’, CQ 28 (1934), 190210.

8 Jackson H., ‘On Plato's Republic VI 509D sqq.’ JPb 10 (1882), 132–50,Stocks J. L., ‘The Divided Line in Plato Rep. VI’, CQ 5 (1911) 7388.Ferguson J., ‘Sun, Line, and Cave Again’, CQ N.S. 13 (1963), 188–93.

9 The “Simile of Light” in Plato's Republic’, CQ 25 (1932), 93102.Back to the Cave’, CQ 28 (1934), 211–13.

10 loc. cit.

11 476 a 9–d 6; 479 e l–5.

12 This discussion begins at 502 c 9–d 2 with Socrates' question: inline-graphicinline-graphic

13 The analogy of the Sun is provided as the nearest Socrates can come to this definition, 506 d 2–507 a 5. The Line is provided as an explicit expansion and completion of the Sun analogy, 509 c 5–11.

14 This question was raised by Socrates at 450 c 6–d 2, postponed twice, and finally taken up at Glaucon's insistence at 471 c 4.

15 475 d 1 ff.

16 487 b 1–d 5. These are the same charges dramatized by Aristophanes in the Clouds.

17 490 e 2 ff.

18 476 c 2–7. The condition of the prisoners who mistake the shadows for reality and cannot follow but must be dragged is called a dream world elsewhere at 520 c 1 – d 4. Cf. 534 b 8–d 1.

19 516 d 6–7: inline-graphicinline-graphic

20 514 a 2: inline-graphicinline-graphic

21 Relatively few of the many discussions of the Cave use as their focus Plato's explicit statement that it is an image of inline-graphic or the indications that it refers to contemporary experience. Exceptions are Nettleship, op. cit., Tanner G. T., ‘Dianoia and Plato's Cave’, CQ N.S. 20 (1970), 8591, and Malcolm, loc. cit. Ferguson A. S., loc. cit. (1922), argues that the Cave represents contemporary society but regards its emphasis as political rather than educational.

22 An issue has been made over whether inline-graphic represents a condition which lacks any education, a natural state of ignorance (e.g. Nettleship, op. cit.), or a false, perverting education (e.g. Ferguson A. S., loc. cit. (1922)Hamlyn D. W., ‘Eikasia in Plato's Republic’, PhilosQ 8 (1958), 1423). Certainly inline-graphicinline-graphic is a condition which lacks what Plato considers to be a true education–that which turns minds from objects of sense to intellection. In the contemporary situation he sees an education which effectively keeps men in the world of the senses. Nevertheless, as Murphy , loc. cit. (1932), (1934), points out, there always remains a cave for the philosopher to return to.

23 This point has been made by, among others, Robinson , op. cit., pp. 190–1, and Hamlyn , loc. cit. 18.

24 Cooper N., ‘The Importance of Dianoia in Plato's Theory of Forms’, CQ N.S. 16 (1966), 68, argues that ‘shadow belief’ is not a human state of mind and that inline-graphic in the cave is an intermediate state between ‘shadow belief’ and knowledge of physical objects.

25 Jowett and Campbell, ii. 13. Robinson , op. cit., pp. 184–5, ‘The Cave … regards the domain of opinion as an undivided unity, represented by the original state of the prisoners.’

26 Shorey P., Plato: The Republic, ii, pp. xxx–xxxiii.Murphy , loc. cit. (1932).

27 Hamlyn, loc. cit. inline-graphic is the state of mind corrupted by the sophists. Ross W. D., Plato's Theory of Ideas, p. 68, views cinaoia as an ‘occasional interlude’.

28 475 d 1–e 4; 476 b 4–8.

29 377 d 4–e 3.

30 Nettleship , op. cit., pp. 241–6.Cross R. C. and Woozley A. D., Plato's Republic: A Philosophical Commentary, pp. 220–3.

31 595 a 1–b 7.

32 596 c 4–9: inline-graphicinline-graphic

46 598 b 6–d 6.

47 514 b 5–6.

48 515 a 2–3; 515 b 7–9.

49 Shorey , op. cit. p. 123, so dismisses hearing.

50 515 c 9–10; 515 e 1–4. On the pleasures of the multitude see 430 e 6– 431 d 4; 586 a 1–c 6. The guards must be tested by toils and pains, 413 a 9–414 a 4; 502 e 2–503 a 7.

51 476 c 2–8; 520 c 1–d 4.

52 534 b 8–d 1. Plato suggests specific comparison of the cave with Hades at least three times; 516 d 2–7 (cf. Od. 11. 489), 521 c 2–3, and 533 d 1. A more subtle connection is created by the use of a common euphemism for Hades inline-graphic in reference to the cave at 520 c 4 (cf. 330 d 8 and 427 b 8). Finally, the cave means death for the returning philosopher, 517 a 6.

53 600 c 2–e 2; 606 e 1–607 a 9; 607 e 4–608 b 2.

54 Nu. 961 ff.; Ra. 1054–5.

55 Parataxis in Homer: A New Approach to Homeric Literary Criticism’, TAPA 80 (1949), 123.

56 Preface to Plato, pp. 1305.

57 595 b 10–c 2; 598 d 7–8.

58 517 a 8–b 6. At 518 a 1 ff. the connection is made between two disturbances of the eye and the difficulties of the soul moving from the light of knowledge to the darkness of ignorance. At 529 a 9– c 3 sight is said never to lead to anything beyond opinion.

59 596 c 4–e 11.

60 601 d 1–602 b 11.

61 e.g., Prt. 312 a 1 ff.; 318 a 1 ff.

62 Prt. 316 c–317 b.

63 Pind. i. 5. 28.

64 The First Greek Sophists’, CR 64 (1950), 810.

65 A History of Greek Philosophy, iii. 42–3.

66 Cornford F. M., Plato's Theory of Knowledge, p. 195; Hamlyn, loc. cit.; see also note 30 above.

67 R. 337 d, 493 a; Ap. 20 a; La. 186 c; Prt. 310 d, 311 b–e, 313b–314a, 328 b, 349 a, 357 e; Cra. 384 b, 391 b; Grg. 519 c, 520 c; Hp.Ma. 281 b, 282 c–d, 283 b–d, 285 b; Men. 91 b, Tht. 167 c; Sph. 222 d, 223 a–b, 225 e–226 a, 231 d;etc.

68 Prt. 309 c, 313 d, 316 c–d; Ti. 19 c–e.

69 Thrasymachus' ‘justice’ depends upon the laws of a particular regime, R. 338 e 1–339 a 4.

70 233 d ff.; 264 b ff.

71 267 b–268 a.

72 E. A. Havelock has suggested to me in conversation that the dialogue Sophist reflects a pointedly professional bitterness which is occupying Plato at this time and that the dialogue may be a direct personal attack against his academic rival, Isocrates.

73 492 a 1–493 d 9.

74 600 c 2–e 3.

75 loc. cit.

76 Others have perceived that the earlier dialogues dealing with the first generation of sophists are not totally hostile to them: e.g. Guthrie , op cit., p. 37;Gagarin M., ‘The Purpose of Plato's Protagoras’, TAPA 100 (1969), 133–64.

77 Guthrie , op. cit., pp. 4, 14;Morrison J. S., ‘An Introductory Chapter in the History of Greek Education’, DUJ 41 (1948), 56–7.Hp.Ma. 281–282 d–the natural philosophers are considered among the sophists' predecessors. Prt. 318 d–e, Protagoras separates himself from those who teach special studies.

78 The ambition cited in R. X, to teach successfully to manage affairs both public and private, is similar to the most general aim stated by Protagoras. Cf. R. 600 c 2–d 4, Prt. 318 e 5–319 a 1.

79 The Liberal Temper in Greek Politics, pp. 160206.

80 Prt. 333 e 1–334 c 6.

81 R. 338 e 1–339 a 4, 343 a 8–344 c 8. Havelock , Liberal Temper, pp. 155–90, argues that the sophistic task was one of ‘rationalizing the procedures of society as he found it’.

82 517 d 4 –e 2. Shadows and their originals within the cave are equally images and objects of opinion with which the returning philosopher must deal. Cf. 532 b 6–8.

83 23 d 4–7. Havelock, Preface to Plato, argues that the sophists and Socrates were part of a common movement.

84 I wish to thank Professor E. A. Havelock for many helpful suggestions in the preparation of this paper.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 11 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 226 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 14th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.