In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic, he describes prisoners chained so that they are forced to face forward towards a wall of a cave. A fire burns behind them and casts shadows onto the wall in front of them. These shadows are all that these prisoners can see. They don’t know the nature of reality—it remains out of reach, outside the cave. They don’t even know that they don’t know reality—nothing in their experiences has ever led them to have to question what they assume to be true: The cave, the shadows, this is all they know.
Plato says, “They are like ourselves.” To me, this suggests a paradox: If we are the prisoners, and I believe we are, how can we begin to understand that we’re the prisoners enough to even appreciate the rest of the essay and the ideas contained therein? How can we…
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