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The Allegory of the Cave, mentioned by Plato in his famous work “The Republic”, illustrates the importance of education for the society, and the necessity to educate gifted people step by step rather than expose them to the whole massive of knowledge accumulated by the humanity. Plato states that if a person from the cave were forced to look at the objects, at the sunlight and at the fire, this person would not see anything, because the light would hurt his or her eyes; hands not used to work and legs not used to walk would also feel pain (Kelly 8), and the person would rather want to return back to the cave, and believe that the shadows seen by the inhabitants of the cave are the true picture of the world. In this way Plato shows that it is not possible to educate a person quickly, and it is also not possible to make everyone an enlightened person and a philosopher – some people will have a rigid thinking and will stick to their old picture of the world.
Then Plato shows the effective method of education – consistent and slow step-by-step process of letting the person from the cave explore the world in conditions only slightly differing from the atmosphere of the cave. With regard to the exploration process of this individual, Plato states: “He would need to get some degree of practice if he would see things above him” (Kelly 9). The individual should first of all perceive the shadows in the water during the dark time, and then the images of animals and men in the water. Later, this person could look at the things themselves and at objects in heaven, also during the night time. Finally, this person would look at the stars and the moon, and then he or she could witness the same things in the daytime. This allegory describes the educational process: first the learner should go from understandable concepts to new ones, and generalize them in more or less common environment. Then it is possible to show new objects and concepts, and only after the individual accepts the new knowledge, the new system or new world outlook could be introduced. Also, Plato emphasizes the blindness of people in the cave, thus showing the limited perception of non-educated people.
Kelly, Eugene. The basics of western philosophy. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.