Allegory of the Cave

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  • Glaucon, I'll tell you a story to help you understand the education and ignorance of humankind. 
  • Ok, I'll try to get it, Socrates.
  • Imagine 4 prisoners in a cave, chained up to their necks, so they can only look at one blank wall. They have been prisoners here their whole lives.
  • There is a big fire behind them where they get their light from. Puppeteers carry statues of natural and human-made things to make shadows in front of the prisoners.
  • Yes, you're getting it!
  • So, if they've lived there their whole lives, only looking at that wall and those shadows, they probably think, fully, that those shadows are real. 
  • I guess... and maybe, they'd start naming the shadows as real things, like a tree shadow a poof for example.
  • Now, what if one of the prisoners were let go and left the cave?
  • Umm, what's this thing?
  • First, her eyes would adjust to the sunlight. Then, she would see shadows, then reflections in water, then, finally, the actual things up there. Someone could teach her the actual names of those things.
  • Whoa, what is this place?
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