20 Best 'Allegory Of The Cave' Quotes By Plato

Greek philosophers are said to have formed the seat of modern civilization.
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'Allegory Of The Cave' written by Plato is a 23 page long part (Book VII) of Plato's work, 'The Republic', one of his valuable areas of Greek literature.

This piece is written in the form of a dialogue between Plato's mentor Socrates, and brother, Glaucon. The work is in the form of narration.

The 'Allegory Of The Cave' summary or message can be framed as the effect of education and its lack on nature. In order to reach enlightenment, Plato quotes say that "one has to go through four stages for development namely; 1. Imprisonment or being chained in the cave, a metaphor for the imaginary world, 2. A release from chains, a metaphor for the real and sensual world, 3. The ascent out of the cave i.e, the world of ideas, 4. The way back in order to help our fellows out from the chained cave". One can simply interpret 'Allegory Of The Cave' symbolism as a work of philosophy based on the ignorance of humans who are trapped in the conventions of ethics and rules, values formed by the society they live in.

See this list of 20 best Plato's Cave Allegory quotes from the translated edition by Benjamin Jowett, for better insight. For more quotes, check out [Plato Symposium Quotes] and [Ancient Greek Quotes].

Imprisonment In The Cave Quotes

When people are imprisoned since childhood and are told things in a certain way, they never know that there is something beyond what they've been told. The quotes focus on this point that has been highlighted under this stage in the allegory.

1. "Human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along with the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

2. "Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way, and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

3. "You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners."

- Glaucon, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

4. "... of the objects which are being carried in like manner, they would only see the shadows... if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them...."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

5. "To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

Departure From The Cave Quotes

When a prisoner from the cave is forced out towards the light, the mixed feelings, and experiences give them a different perception of the world. These quotes focus on this aspect of the struggle while reaching knowledge.

When one can see the true world without the made-up shadows, it's the most powerful one can ever feel.

6. "At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

7. "He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world... first, he will see the shadows best, next to the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven..."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

8. "... when he remembered his old habitation and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?"

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

9. "Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

10. "... he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner."

- Glaucon, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

Return To The Cave Quotes

When the prisoner realizes the immense beauty around the world, he tries to go back and share his knowledge with the other prisoners. In the process of a sudden change from light to dark that one turns blind, making the other prisoners fear the world outside. These quotes focus on the tendency of being comfortable in one's own chains.

11. "... Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if anyone tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

12. "... you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural..."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

13. "Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

14. "... wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

15. "... they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

Meaningful Quotes By Plato In The Allegory

Being enlightened or unenlightened is a process one goes through based on the direction they choose to go through in life. Here are a few quotes that focus on this aspect by Plato.

Being enlightened or unenlightened is a process one goes through based on the direction they choose to go through in life. Here are a few quotes that focus on this aspect by Plato.

16. "Let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened"

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

17. " ... the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world..."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

18. " ... my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

19. " ... certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes... our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exist in the soul already..."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

20. " for the man of war must learn the art of number or he will not know how to array his troops, and the philosopher also, because he has to rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being, and therefore he must be an arithmetician."

- Socrates, 'Allegory of the cave', Plato.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for quotes from 'The Allegory Of The Cave' then why not take a look at [Epictetus quotes], or [Epicurus quotes].

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