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The theme of this famous allegory is that our perception of reality is limited by our point of view, in fact that any perception is a limited one. Socially, it can be extended thematically to advocating tolerance for another’s point of view. The point is that our senses are unreliable for projecting truths beyond them—sight, touch, etc. If we approach the world logically, the truths of the universe that are beyond logic cannot be known by us. Our daily interpretations are illusions, because we only perceive the shadowy presence of things, not their essential nature. The theme speaks against prejudice, against thinking that our point of view is the only one worth considering. From the Ptolemaic earth-centered notion to the national pride that leads to war and colonialism and hegemony, to religious prejudices built into cultures, there is a thematic warning in Plato’s allegory to not give too much weight to our personal perspective, that there may be a substantive world beyond the shadows that we think is reality.
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