Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Is the world as it appears to be, or is there some further reality beyond appearance? Plato's allegory of the cave, from The Republic, is one of the most famous and beautiful expositions of the difference between appearance and reality. Using Socrates as his mouthpiece, Plato argues that empirical knowledge amounts to no more than knowledge of appearances. In fact, he claims, our perceptual knowledge is at least thrice removed: it is merely knowledge of the shadows of illusions of reality.

For Plato, philosophy is the pursuit of real, objective, unchanging knowledge: not of beautiful things, as ordinary people do, but of Beauty itself, not of good things but of the Good, not of true things but of the unchanging Form of Truth. As the animated video below shows, popular dissent, if it disagrees with the real, is of no consequence.

And below you can listen to philosopher Simon Blackburn talk about the significance of Plato's allegory of the cave in an episode of Philosophy Bites.

Of course, one of the implications of Plato's allegory is that, from the point of view of a lay person, there is no discernible difference between a madman and a philosopher, is there? ;)
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