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Randy Ko
Ms. Alapin
English 120
6 October 2014
Look out for Outlook
In the introspective passage “Book 7” in Republic by Plato, it defines a society that is in a
restricted mentality. The individuals that are presented in the story are restricted. The story
revolves around the central idea of having an educated population, which is a necessity in all
domineering and successful societies. Every prosperous civilization is in need of a population of
smart people. In turn, how come a society cannot be on the same page in every situation? Why
is it that some individuals are unhappy with what they end up with in their life in terms of jobs,
living, and culture? Plato conveys in an interesting metaphor that society should strive to
discover their own truths of the real world rather than following the shadow and footsteps of all
that is already seen, said, and passed on.
In Roger Huard Plato’s Political Philosophy, he explains that in the story there are a
“community of people” that are positioned in such a way that “they cannot see themselves or the
people who sit with them” (6). They are also faced staring at a wall with a fire behind of which
creates shadows of objects passing by. They are limited on all of the endless possibilities of
resources, knowledge, and power outside of their own little world. There is much more context
and ideas outside of the cave than what they know to be true. They have associated the shadows
with names that they have given themselves, because these are the only figures that they know of.
However, when a man is released and has begun seeing the other side of the world, he
must adjust his sight accordingly. When he is forced out into the sun, the “light is bright” and

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“requires getting used to” as this is not the same environment he is accustomed to in the cave
(Huard 7). If the man were to associate shadows with real objects, it would not be true. If he
were to see a camel in the outside world, visually in front of him, he would not call it a camel. It
would be wrong in his mind. The shadow of a camel is a camel. This is because he has been
immersed in a “culture” in the cave that he associated all shadows of objects as the “real” object
(Huard 13). In addition, Philippos Pouyioutas looked at Plato’s allegory through a different view
such as social networks, education, political, and social interpretation. Pouyioutas says that if the
prisoner were to enter back into the cave his eyes would fill with “darkness” (138). Entering
back into the “cave world” would bring him familiarity, but he would reject the idea that
shadows are the real object, but rather a part of the objects.
Taking another stance on the topic, the cave can be depicted as a city and the outside
world can be visualized as the entire world. The cave with the people staring at the shadows at
the wall, they can be the figure of chained people who are stuck in the city that they are born in.
Take for example, a man who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He knows Spanish and
believes that he is at the heart where the language was born and none of his family members has
told him about how Spanish is spoken around in different regions of the world. It would be to his
surprise that visiting another country, Spain for example, uses a different set of conjugations as
opposed to what he has been using all of his life in Albuquerque. This man would be unable to
fully understand the meaning of the sentence structure of the other civilizations across the world
that do indeed speak the same language, but in a different linguistic.
Plato has given a situation where the man who was released was not understood by the
men who still live his old life in the cave. The men, who are still staring at the shadows in the
cave, can now only think and hear the echoes of the released prisoner. His words are distorted,

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and may now sound of the typical person outside of their chained society. It is indeed, not
recognizable. Even if he were able to communicate to these men, it is believed that they would
shun him. They would tell him he has created a world of illusions for himself. To them, a camel
in real life is not a camel, but in fact, the shadow of a camel is a camel. The reality outside of
their world is not the real world. This plays with the psychological effect on a person,
specifically Solomon Asch’s experiment in 1958. It is the phenomenon when people
unanimously choose the “wrong answer” and it is clear to an individual that they are indeed
wrong, but you conform to their idea that the wrong answer is right ("Solomon Asch Experiment
(1958) A Study of Conformity”). This peer pressure does ruin the fact that the community people
cannot break their chains from the cave.
An example of the message Plato would like to get across is that the men staring at the
wall staring at shadows are students in school today. Students will “passively” believe that what
they are trained and educated on in school are of all we know of knowledge and truth in the real
world (Pouyioutas 139). They immerse themselves in videos, teachers teaching off a textbook,
and learning about any given topic from an expert of said topic. There is a large portion to say
that they understand the culture of another country without actually travelling there. Why limit
yourself in a cave when there is an option to experience and visualize it personally? An
individual may have their own reality of the real world, but until they experience it, they might
not know of the truth and facts of the life that they live in. As an example, someone who has
studied Spain through history may be delusional when hearing about the other angle from a
native Spaniard who has lived through a particular event. When given the chance at freedom and
not be restricted in a “cave,” there is an access to the real world of “searching and acquiring
knowledge is revealed” (Pouyioutas 139). This respects the idea that every individual should

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look around rather than what is always placed in front of them, just like the shadows being
projected throughout the day in the cave for the prisoners.
In terms of mass media, the presented options in everyday life have “broken, to an extent,
the chains of the cave” (Pouyioutas 140). Most individuals are given the chance to read from
extra sources, television, internet, connecting with others, and many more services. People now
are able to drift away from a conformity decision. There is now a very small population in this
world that is not exposed to social media. It is suggested that in the world in present day depicted
through social media, news, and shows that if “those who will choose to resist the new life” are
in fact “the prisoners of the Plato’s cave” (Pouyioutas 137-138). Nearly everyone can understand
the multiple opinions on a given topic nearly instantly when an event or subject is put on hand.
Mass media has exposed society to be able to learn about what is happening anywhere in the
world, seconds after it has happened. In this way, many people are able to expose themselves to
other information and different ideas rather than what is repeated in everyday life. Individuals
will be able to structure and theorize their own ideas.
The ultimate message Plato wants to pass on in his “Allegory of the Cave” is that people
should not leave a stone unturned in any pursuit of a path taken upon anyone. No one should
have shadows dance in front of them and have them dictate their life story and ideas. There may
be a whole different outlook on what any individual is thinking of, and a different destination
may be in route for anyone. As a result, the educational message is that individuals who are
seeking knowledge should go in with an open mind and not be confined in only what is visible to
them and to not be chained in that sense.

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Works Cited
"Solomon Asch Experiment (1958) A Study of Conformity." Solomon Asch Study Social
Pressure Conformity Experiment Psychology. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. <>.
Bullhead Entertainment. “The Cave: An Adaptation of Plato’s Allegory in Clay.” Online
video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 Apr. 2008. Web. 11 June 2014.
Huard, Roger L. Plato's Political Philosophy: The Cave. New York: Algora, 2007. Internet
Plato. Republic. Trans. Raymond Larson. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 1979. Print.
Pouyioutas, Philippos. "Plato's Allegory of the Cave in the Digital Era of the Internet, Web 2.0
Applications, Social Networks and Second Life an Educational, Political and Social
Interpretation." N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.