Plato's Republic by Plato

Start Your Free Trial

What is the main theme of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" in the Republic?

Expert Answers info

Dakota Rabbitt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseProfessional Writer

bookB.A. from Colby College


calendarEducator since 2019

write241 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The main theme of Plato's Allegory of the Cave in the Republic is that human perception cannot derive true knowledge, and instead, real knowledge can only come via philosophical reasoning.

In Plato’s example, prisoners live their entire lives in a cave, only able to see shadows. To them, these shadows are reality. When a prisoner randomly guesses the next shadow to appear, that prisoner will be worshipped as having mastered nature. When one prisoner escapes and understands that life comes from the sun, he realizes his former view of reality based on human perception was wrong. When he returns to tell the other prisoners, they do not believe him, because they are still relying on their perception.

This idea also begins to uncover other issues with human perception. Humans are biased individuals who will explicitly or implicitly apply individual biases to what they perceive. Additionally, two humans can perceive the same object and derive a different meaning from it. For...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 991 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Scott David eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write974 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,841 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


perplexedwhy | Student

Very well explanation.