The “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato represents an extended metaphor that is to contrast the way in which we perceive and believe is reality. Plato said what we see are actually imperfect “reflections” of the ultimate Forms, which represent reality and truth. In his story, there is a cave in which prisoners are chained down and forced to look at the front wall of the cave. Behind the prisoners is a fire and puppeteers, casting shadows on the wall in which the prisoners perceive as reality. Being you and I know there are puppeteers, we know the shadows the prisoners are seeing are not reality. But, it’s their reality, none the less.
Once a prisoner is released, he is forced to look at the fire and objects that once provided his perception of reality. Only then does he realize these new images in front of him are now the accepted forms of reality. Plato described the vision of the real truth to be “aching” to the eyes of the prisoners. He added they would naturally want to go back to the cave and look at what they had always seen as a pleasant and painless acceptance of truth.
Once a prisoner climbs out of the cave and is fully immersed in the rays of the sun, the prisoner would suffer bewilderment, fear, and blindness to the objects he was now being told were real. The natural reaction of the prisoner would be to recognize shadows and reflections. After his eyes adjust to the sunlight, he begins to see things as they really are.
Plato’s allegory made me think about zombies. Oh hell, what doesn’t!?
We’re not just prisoners in a cave, we’re zombies. Those who have left the cave come to visit once in a while. They may complain that the food outside isn’t as good. But, they’ve taken the uncomfortable step of leaving the cave and merely want you to eat something other than brains. If you are a zombie still in the cave, the other zombies are going to tell you to just eat more brains.
It doesn’t matter what kind of zombie you are. If someone offers to expand your reality with ideas foreign to your own, don’t be so negative. Don’t just dismiss them. Don’t eat more brains.
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