The Political Significance of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

Ideas Y Valores 66 (165):237-265 (2017)
Authors
Gabriel Zamosc
University of Colorado at Denver
Abstract
Abstract: In this paper I claim that Plato’s Cave is fundamentally a political, not an epistemological image, and that only by treating it as such can we appreciate correctly its relation to the images of the Sun and the Line. On the basis of textual evidence, I question the two main assumptions that support (in my view, mistakenly) the effort to find an epistemological parallel between the Cave and the Line: first, that the prisoners represent humankind in general, and, second, that the cave itself represents the visible world of ordinary experience while the world outside the cave represents the realm of the Forms. Disrupting these assumptions opens up a reading that highlights the cultural and political themes at play in this famous allegory and allows us to make better sense of it. Keywords: Plato, Cave, Politics, Culture Resumen: En este ensayo sostengo que la Caverna de Platón es fundamentalmente una alegoría política, no epistemológica, y que solo tratándola como tal, podremos apreciar correctamente la relación que guarda con las imágenes del Sol y de la Línea. Sobre la base de evidencia textual, pongo en duda las dos hipótesis principales sobres las que se funda (a mi parecer, equivocadamente) el esfuerzo por encontrar un paralelo epistemológico entre la Caverna y la Línea: la primera, que los prisioneros representan a la humanidad en general, y la segunda, que la propia caverna representa el mundo visible de la experiencia corriente, mientras que el mundo fuera de la caverna representa el reino de las Ideas. La suspensión de estos supuestos posibilita una lectura que pone de relieve los temas culturales y políticos que están en juego en esta famosa alegoría y nos permite así entenderla mejor. Palabras Clave: Platón, Caverna, Política, Cultura
Keywords Plato  Cave  Politics  Culture  Ancient Philosophy
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.15446/ideasyvalores.v66n165.55201
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