The Republic

The Metaphor of the Cave

Plato introduces his famous allegory of the cave with the phrase, "like this:" thus establishing that the passage is structured as a metaphor, and therefore must be read both as a figurative description and a symbolic representation of a concrete state of being (VII:514). He also emphasizes that the reader must "imagine," a command that reinforces the allegorical nature of the work - the reader enters into the text as both a voyeur and an actual conceptualist of the image being imagined (VII: 514). As the passage goes through its multiple spatial and metaphysical levels of creation, the reader experiences the exact procession of which he is reading about in the work, thus creating a replication of the same education that Plato addresses within The Republic as a whole. This experience also clarifies for the reader the role of the philosopher king and the notion of the kallipolis a construct based around this vision of truth and wisdom with its multifaceted synthesis of many topos within the dialogue. Thus the allegory is not only a self-contained vision of "the effects of education on our nature," but a prolonged metaphor whose figurative language both intrinsically and superficially draws upon the...

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