Plato’s Cave – Why Some People Want To Remain Prisoners
Plato was a student of Socrates. He wrote the allegory of the cave in his book The Republic to compare the effect of education and the lack of it on human nature. I have summarized it below.
Suppose one prisoner is freed and looks at the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and would make it difficult for him to see what is casting the shadows. If he were told what he was seeing was real instead of his perceived notion of reality, he wouldn’t believe it. The prisoner would turn back towards what he has been accustomed to.
Now suppose that the prisoner is dragged out of the cave and into the sun. He would be scared, angry, and in pain from the blinding rays of the sun. Slowly though, his eyes would adjust. First he would look at the shadows, then the reflections of people and things in the water, and then the people and things directly. At night, he would look at the stars and the moon until his eyes were strong enough that he could look directly at the sun. When he could look at the sun, he could reason to what it could possibly be.
Plato reasoned that the freed prisoner would think the outside world was much better than the life he had in the cave. He would be thankful for the change and pity the prisoners still trapped and want to see them freed. If he went back into the cave, he would be blinded by the darkness and the prisoners would think that the journey outside the cave had harmed him and they should not go. Socrates reasoned that if the prisoners were able, they would kill anyone attempting to drag them out of the cave.
Plato wrote this to show his belief that our senses are just opinion and to discover reality we need to reason it out philosophically.
Today many call this ‘living in the matrix,’ taking the blue pill is to be a prisoner and taking the red pill is to become free.
The blue pills are captives and only see the shadows of reality. The chosen objects to cast a shadow of reality being held up by the media, television, movies, politicians and celebrities. That what they think is real is just a shadow show being put on for their benefit, an agenda. Many people go through life accepting the societal norms they have been shown without truly questioning it all.
They are not just one step removed from reality, but two, since they see only the shadow of an object based on something real. This agenda has created an entire reality for the prisoners, the truth for them but for anyone outside a glaring falsehood.
Taking the red pill is like being that freed prisoner. Like Neo emerging from the pod, this is commonly called an ‘awakening.’ Someone who has recently been freed will read for days or even weeks about possibilities other than the one they have been shown their whole life. This often challenges and pains the person to see it, and some choose to return to what they are comfortable with – the cave as a prisoner.
Some, though, will continue to open their eyes even if it causes them pain and eventually be able to look directly at the sun. They will have seen life for what it is. They will want to help those still held prisoner.
All too often, the prisoners will fight against any help.
Can you imagine this in the world we live in? This allegory of the cave is just as pertinent today as it was thousands of years ago when Plato thought it up. One can link it to many things in life, politics, religion, and in other individual ways. I think it can be pertinent to the way people think about their financial situation.
I see people living like this day after day. They wake up, go work for 8 or more hours a day, spend every cent they make and more just do it all again the next day. Forever. Or at least until they are too old to do any of their dreams.
If you tell them there is a better way, buy less stuff, find a side hustle, invest in something that pays you a return on your money and become a little more free everyday – they fight back. They say it is impossible. They say they will work until the day they drop dead. They won't - or can't - see that other people have broken out of the cycle.
If you drag them out of the cave and into the sun they will find this cognitive dissonance uncomfortable, so will avoid the information you provide them that increases it. Instead they will scurry back to the life of work/consume/debt. It is comfortable. It is simple. It is easy. It is safe.
This is why you must educate those around you at a slow pace. Go too fast and their eyes are still in too much pain to see what you are trying to show them. Know that not everyone will ever want to leave the cave either.
Just by reading this, you have a more advanced understanding than most people in this world.
So if you see a curious soul looking for answers, show them the way. We were all the prisoners once. Show them that they can be free, that can throw off their chains and start living under the sun.
My moment of honesty:
- My interests vary but I strive for quality work, check my blog for proof.
- I will not fill up your feed with crap, I have only resteemed thrice.
- I will also reply to all your comments if they warrant any reply.
- These things I promise to you. So follow me, or don't. I want you to do what you want to.