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The Republic, Book VII Review

Page history last edited by maroeftering@... 13 years, 6 months ago



George Boeree, Director of Psychology at Shippensburg University




1. Background


2. Allegory of the Cave


3. Wisdom vs. Intelligence


4. Education


5. Justice in the real world



1. Background:

  • Author:  Plato
  • Characters: Socrates, Glaucon
  • An allegory is figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another or a symbolical narrative  

                         Random House Unabridged Dictionary, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/allegory

2. Allegory of the Cave:

  • Prisoners= people in society
  • Shadows= reality humans know from culture
  • Guards= authority figures, government
  • Prison, chains= our culture, influences
  • Sun, light outside cave= wisdom, real world
  • Ascent = enlightenment of the soul
  • Escaped prisoner= philosophers


  • One prisoner escapes cave and ascends to outside world= man finds wisdom
  • It is the escaped prisoners responsibility to go back and inform other prisoners= philosphers must teach others
  • Other prisoners may not believe him= enlightened people reluctant to get involved with others

                     "And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. " - Glaucon

  • Idea a lot like The Matrix

 << authority= "guards"



3. Wisdom vs. Intelligence

  • two seperate things achieved in different ways
  • an intelligent AND wise person can express their wisdom and knows how to best use it
  • a simply wise person may not be listened to because he cannot express wisdom well
  • a simply intelligent person may have "book smarts" but no "street smarts"


4. Education

  • new knowledge put into the soul, learning the truth
  • Learn about good
  • "Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark." - Socrates on philosophers



5. Justice in the Real World

  • Real theory of justice never changes, it just is not always accepted in the real world
  • Justice is visible, self-explanatory, intellectual= how philosophers see it







The republic book VII

     allegory of the cave

     people in cave- ignorance

     fire- cast shadows

     shadows represents ignorance

     how to teach people- must be gradual or people will revolt against


     Socrates describes human nature















Glacier cave in Big Four Glacier, Big Four Mountain, Washington, ca. 1920.




Taino petroglyphs in a cave in Puerto Rico



Shadows on pavement 



  • Socrates asks his audience whether the prisoners would ever see anything of themselves.
  • Socrates continues his description of the "good" with his allegory of the cave.
  • In the cave the men live chained up to the wall and they can only see in front of them.
  • All they can see are the shadows of imagery carried between a curtain and a fire by some other people, who talk and make noises.
  • The prisoners believe what they hear and see are real.
  • It is related to Plato's metaphor of the sun and the analogy of the divided line.

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