The Allegory of the cave
The Allegory of the Cave, like most things in philosophy, can be deciphered in many different ways. It basically says that people are chained to the wall of a cave and they have nothing to look at but shadows on the wall that are provided by another. This is all that they know and have never been out of the cave. That tells nothing on the surface, but once one looks really hard a few messages or meanings can be interpreted from the Allegory.
The main point of the Allegory of the Cave is to give an example of the way that we all live our lives. Except for a chosen few like Christ, Gandhi and maybe even Socrates, no one is really enlighten, or has seen what life is all about. The remainder of the Earths inhabitants see what we think is reality when actually it is, persay, the “shadows” of true reality. The Shadow makers represent the opinions makers, or the people that make us look at the world the way we do. An opinion maker can be anyone, a priest telling you how God wants you to live, ones parents teach them morals or the television. These shadows make us think that this is the way to live and that this is what is important in the world. As stated before, few can break the chains and escape the cave. When they do and find out what true reality is, most come back and want to spread the truth. In most cases these people are looked down upon for not conforming or for trying to poison the minds of others. Look at Christ, he was crucified for trying to teach as was Socrates. The main point of the Allegory is to illustrate the way in which we live and show how what we think is reality merely are shadows.
I seem to think there is another meaning to the Allegory of the Cave. I agree with the interpretations of the story up to a point. The part where my believes differ is upon leaving the cave. I do believe while on Earth some do break their chains and escape the cave to see what reality is, however I believe that we all eventually break the chains some just do it while on Earth. What is meant by that is in death we break the chains. The Allegory says that it is painful to break the chains, and in most cases death is not pleasant but painful. Once out of the chains, there is indecision, what to do, where to go. Only when the sunlight is spotted from the cave entrance does one know where to go. Again death echoes this same pattern. Many say after death there is indecision until the bright light draws them toward it. The Outside of the cave, the true reality, then is a symbol of heaven. Both represent a better place, a sort of paradise where things can be more clearly understood. This interpretation may conflict with an earlier statement that suggests that some break the chains and become enlightened while on earth but it does not. Those who are lucky enough to have found true reality while on Earth were the exception. They did not have to die to find out what others find out after death. Digressing, the cave is an example of the Earth and the way we live our lives. The breaking of the chains represent death in the sense that we break free from our physical forms and now are an essence that is free to explore new worlds. Heaven is represented by the outside of the cave. It is what is strived for by all, to escape the cave and go somewhere better and become something better. The Allegory of the Cave is a direct comparison to that of the process of dying and accention into heaven.
The Allegory of the Cave is and illustration of the way humans look at the Earth and what we fell is reality. Most do not escape this warped thinking until death. Few break free and see what true reality is while on Earth. In both cases however, all of us find out true reality eventually, some are just gifted enough to have found it while still living.