University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Comparing Plato’s The Myth of the Cave to Our Everyday Influences
Is it true that from the first day you were born until the day you die you are surrounded by false shadows-false shadows that are made by our peers in order to keep us from making our own decisions and realizations? According to “The Myth of the Cave” written by Plato, that is exactly how the world works. From my standing point I couldn’t agree more. Our society is constantly being manipulated. Whether it’s by false advertisements or somebody else’s behavior, society is constantly controlling the way we think.
For example, television advertisement is telling our young and mature women they can be beautiful and near goddess like if they simply buy their company’s product. From what I’ve seen as long as I buy Covergirls™ latest wrinkle cream I’ll never age a day in my life and I’ll look remarkable similar to the model advertising it. Not only women are being effected by this “image” but men too. Another example of these false advertisements are the Axe Deodorant™ commercials that are constantly implying to men that as long as they buy this particular deodorant and use it they’ll have dozens of beautiful women crawling on them all at once.
I can’t be certain but I don’t believe this has ever happened to an Axe Deodorant™ purchaser. These are just a few of the many shadows controlling the way we live. In Plato’s analogy he uses a man that has freed himself from the former way of seeing life. Plato asks if the man will be baffled by these unfamiliar things he has never seen before and wonders if the man will continue to fancy the shadows he has formerly seen as being more creditable then the objects which are now being shown to him.
Plato goes on continuing to wonder if this man will be intimidated by the more true, better things in life and go back to his former way of living-under the influence of the shadows shown before him. This is the perfect analogy of a person on their road to redemption. Plato’s analogy exemplifies situations when there is a member in a family or group who decides to change the way he or she acts or does something even though everyone in that family or group continues to do them.
For instance, when someone decides to quit smoking but everyone else continues to smoke they’re given very little support. Many people who smoke will give looks of leeriness and doubt because they’re reflecting on their own failed attempts to quit smoking. These looks give voice to what is being said in their minds. Voices that are saying “If they couldn’t do it and so couldn’t the next guy that came along and tried, what makes you any different? ” They don’t need to say it aloud; they have already showed you how they feel and what they think about your attempt to quit smoking.
Many will say “We’ll see how long this last. ” and other begin placing bets on your success or failure. When you are constantly getting this negative feedback with very little encouragement on the side the shadows are going to leer you back in to a world of control and manipulation, a world where you believe you are dependent on cigarettes. For all the time you have been smoking you have trained your body and mind to think it needs that constant dose of nicotine you’ve always given yourself.
You’ve allowed it to become a shadow, a constant illusion. The people doubting your success in your attempt to quit smoking cigarettes are creating more illusions (shadows) just like you’re body’s need for nicotine. Of course you’re body thinks it needs that constant dose of nicotine, just like these people are making you believe, but in truth it doesn’t. The only reason why your body feels like it needs the nicotine is because in past experience you have allowed yourself to depend on it. It’s just another illusion, just another shadow.
It’s both a constant internal and external conflict. Although I have only spoke of two kinds of corruption, both false advertisement and how other people’s behaviors affect your own behavior, they both have many shadow’s within them. These shadow’s effect the way we think and act. Plato believed that if one wanted to leave and discover what something else was like all the others that stayed behind would look down on that person as foolish and without nonsense. Sadly, the majority of people don’t want to be changed.
They grow up one way and appreciate it for what it is; they are happy being “another brick in the wall”. They want to see the explorer fail so that they can be reminded that what they believe in is the right thing to believe in. When one person is brave enough to embrace a new world, a new way of living, they’re a shunned upon causing others to stay in the shadow’s as well. Like Plato says in The Myth of the Cave, “Would he not say with Homer, Better to be the poor servant of a poor master… ”