Blog title

The title of my blog is adapted from Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in The Republic, Book VII. I highly recommend you read his version … it’s a classic … but here’s my thumbnail sketch:

In the opening line, Plato presents his anecdote as a “parable of education and ignorance”. I found it perfectly captures the range of emotions I went through as I embarked on a journey of searching for what I truly believe. In his allegory, people are imprisoned in an underground cave, and can only see objects as two-dimensional shadows projected on the wall by light from a fire inside the cave. One person is freed, and because he can now walk around and look at things from different perspectives, he notices in greater detail the real three-dimensional objects which were projecting the two-dimensional shadows which he and his fellow captives were studying: he suddenly has a new understanding of what had been there all along. But he continues to explore his surroundings and eventually makes his way out of the cave. At first he’s blinded and dazzled by the brilliant sunlight: now he’s lost any ability to perceive things and feels lost; there is a certain fear in losing grasp of what was previously a firm perception of ‘reality’. Eventually his eyes adapt to this new level of illumination and he can once again see: but not just the few things that might have been in the cave, but now everything outside of the cave, even into the heavens. And he comes to the realization that if he were to go back into the cave to his fellow captives, he would be acutely aware of the darkness. His eyes would be unaccustomed to seeing from that perspective. And even if he were to wait for his eyesight to once again accommodate to that dim light, he would never again see things the way he used to. He now knows that they are only shadows of a limited number of objects. Later, Plato emphasizes to his listener how it would be wrong for that person to not go back to the prisoners and help them learn the truth about their view of reality, and also how those fellow prisoners would reject and even mock any person who came back to help them.

I can relate completely to the same progression of emotions — being confused, blinded, fearful, but then enlightened, confident, and finally wanting to help others out of the same confusing predicament, yet fearing their response to the telling of my new understanding.


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