After talking about the Allegory Of the Cave, it seems, from my understanding, that Socrates’ opinion of the world around us is that it is all just a concept that we turn it into. A pencil is only a pencil because that’s what we say it is, otherwise it would just be a combination of wood and lead. So far, from my understanding, everything in our world does not actually exist or is just an attempt to create something that cannot exist. This concept and understanding has mad me wonder what the point of learning this and understanding the forms is? For a quick summary of the Allegory of the Cave, a prisoner who sees a shadow of a dog on the cave wall all his life is dragged up the cave to view the fire and the puppet of the dog and then ragged out of the cave to see a real dog and see the sun and then sent back down to rule over the other prisoners. My question is; why does the prisoner need to understand that the shadows aren’t the truth in order to rule the other prisoners? Why does viewing the sun and the fire and the actual dog make him any more qualified to rule then any of the other prisoners? I understand the forms now more than an average person. I know they exist and I know they tell us that everything is merely a concept and everything is just what we make it. Essentially, I am further up the cave than the other prisoners. I know there is a fire and a puppet so to speak. Although I recognize there is much more study to be done and I am not a philosopher, knowing the forms and understanding they exist has changed absolutely nothing about the way I see the world. A chair is still a chair, a chalkboard is still a chalkboard and I feel no more qualified to rule anything than the average person. So if this bit knowledge has changed nothing about me, what is the point of learning? And what is the point of fully learning it? The prisoners seem perfectly content to stare at the shadows without knowing of the sun and the real dog as people seem perfectly content to call a pen a pen instead of realizing it’s just an imitation of their concept of a pen that can’t actually be. Why does fully realizing this concept make a person a more qualified ruler? Even if you fully understood the forms and the form of the good, it does not change anything in the physical space around you. Nothing will actually change. The shadows are still on the wall, the imitation of the pen will still exist in the physical universe and the perfect pen will not and cannot, so what’s the point of being unsatisfied when nothing can be changed? And what does the knowledge of the forms change about the way someone rule that makes them a better leader?
Applications of the Allegory of the Cave