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Allegory of the Cave: can we redirect the knowledge available inside someone’s soul?

Date: 01-04-2023 at 13:40

The very first time I got to know about the concept of “Allegory of the Cave” was while watching a web series 1899 by Baran Bo Odar. Baran is also the director of the massively popular Sci-Fi web series Dark. I watched 1899 only because of Baran Bo Odar, and I am also a fan of Sci-fi. In the past, such content (long-form or short-form) has improved my reasoning and critical thinking. If sci-fi content is written with a depth of understanding - it can also help you in your imagination. Invisible aspects of our world can only be understood by closing your eyes and visualizing it in its normal form. And hence I have massive respect for Sir Richard P Feynman.

After a few episodes, the web series started getting slow, but thanks to Netflix's 1.5X speed feature - it was less painful. However, the last episode where the big revelation and the term - “Allegory of the Cave” was the only good thing out of 4 and a half hours of a complicated plot. Since I always look for such concepts - I wrote down this term. And after completing the web series, I Google searched this term.

Frankly, I read it a few times, but initially, it was complicated to understand. We are talking about November 2022 - when my mind just started understanding these complicated concepts. I got only a partial understanding of the whole concept. Here is what I understood:

There is a Cave whose mouth is open towards the light, humans living in this cave from their birth are chained tightly to their legs and necks so they can’t move around their heads. Above and behind them, there is a fire burning between the fire and the chained humans there is raised way. Along the raised way, passing humans are carrying various sorts of vessels, statues, and figures of animals made of wood, stone, and various materials and shadows of those appear over the wall, some of them are talking, and others are silent. And since these humans have been chained from their birth, they are only seeing their own shadows or shadows of shadows and considering this as reality. This means till the time, these humans are not putting effort and breaking free from the chain (on their own or with the help of someone) - they would consider these shadows as reality”.

And I found that super powerful, at that time. But I was aware that this must be a partial understanding of the entire concept. But Whatever the understanding I drew from “Allegory of the Cave” or Plato’s Cave (Because it was articulated by Philosopher, Plato in his book: Republic) did two things.

  1. I posted a pictorial representation of the Allegory of the Cave on my Instagram with a few line descriptions

  2. I purchased the Book Republic by Plato

I tried reading Republic in Nov-22 but found it hard to keep my head around. Even though Philosophy is just the explanation of regular things that we encounter every day - it’s not everyone's cup of tea. Frankly, Philosophy is hard to understand, and not everyone can make sense of that. But Philosophy is beautiful, it can make you significant, and will force you to question everything.

Since every physical object around us influence our mind subconsciously and this book on my living room table - I was seeing this book a few times a day - influenced me to pick the book again. Also, I have been on the learning exponential curve. Things that I found complicated to understand a few months back, now I can read and understand easily. I started reading this book at the start of Feb- 2023. Frankly, this thought was out of my mind: I bought this book for the purpose - to understand the Allegory of the Cave.

This book was tough to read, and as much as I can recall, I never read more than 20 pages in a single go. And this was the max - because my mind demanded rest (distraction) to process this compact wisdom. I started this book in Feb, and I was not in a hurry to complete this book.

The last Wednesday, I was reading the Book-7 (There is a total of 8 books [Chapters]) of the Republic, and it starts with “Allegory of the Cave” since I had some experience with this, I was hooked on the first word. And while reading the concept in the detail, I was also emotional - the tears were coming out of my eyes. But it was the firm realization that yesterday I was like that caved human considering the shadows as reality, and today I have some sense of the reality (or I am just delusional, lol). And having this realization was enough for me to be emotional. And decided, I will write about this whole experience in the form of an essay. And here I am writing this… :)

In this essay, I will be writing a simpler version of “Allegory of the Cave” for my own benefit. So in future, if I ever need to revisit and understand - I can read. :) Also by writing, I will have confidence whether I really understand this or not. :) One thing is certain if I can understand such complex concepts and the facets of our world. I think anyone can understand anything.

So, let’s continue the “Allegory of the Cave” from my initial limited understanding - of what I wrote in the above paragraphs (Can you recall?).

There are many pictorial representations tried drawing “Allegory of the Cave” on paper, but out of all the available ones - I uploaded this image on my Instagram profile. And we are going to use this image for our explanation purpose.

Allegory of the Cave

And as I have explained the basic concept in the above paragraphs: for chained humans, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. To understand the complete, we need to create multiple stages. And hence let's consider the paragraph that I wrote above as Stage-1 - chained humans considering shadows as reality.

Now if some of these chained humans are released and disabused of their error - Can you guess the possible situations? Let’s call this Stage-2.

Once these humans are liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn their neck round and walk and look towards the light, they will suffer sharp pains; the glory will distress them, and they will be unable to see the realities (Shadows and echos) remember for these humans the realities were different in the stage-1. And if they conceive someone saying to them the realities of Stage-1 were just illusions, but now they are approaching towards more real existence. Can you think of humans' answers? Since the shadows would be far different from the actual objects - even if someone is pointing them towards the actual light - straight at the light - they will feel pain in their eyes which will make them turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision which they can see and which will conceive to be in reality clearer then the things which are now being shown to them. This is a classic case with us humans I have found myself in this stage in the past - reality sucks, we all would like to be in our comfort zone and accept our illusion as reality because it demands nothing. :)

Let’s create one more Stage: Stage-2.1.

Consider someone forced and dragged them to the presence of the sun - it would be obvious these humans would feel pain because the light their eyes will be dazzled, and they would not be able to see anything at all - which is actual reality. Even after being in the open reality, these humans would not be able to see the direct sun rather they would do step by step. In fact, some of them would find the direct sun painful and would run inside the cave and will accept those shadows as the reality for their entire life. However, all those who would take some pain and put some effort into following steps can develop the ability to face the actual reality. But this would be only possible if the journey would be something like this: first, they would be comfortable in seeing their own shadows (outside the cave), then their shadows in the water, moonlight (the reflection of the sun) and stars and finally they would be able to see the direct sun. Even at this stage, these humans would find every new reality a bit painful and inclined to go back. But all those humans who would keep making some efforts - will keep discovering the new realities of this beautiful world. <3

Stage-3: After a certain time period in the direct sun (actual reality) these humans would be comfortable and start accepting these new realities out of the cave. Just to be clear, in human life - no stage would be the final stage… Beautiful

Now imagine, just for a second, if these humans would have not moved out of the cave, not gone through that pain, and put habits of making a new reality normal - these humans would have always accepted the shadows as their reality. :)

This is how a human’s journey from unenlightened to enlightened takes place. When I was reading this entire concept, I was emotional because I was like that chained human till yesterday. But today, I am in stage-2.1 and ready to go through all the pain that can help me intersect with the actual reality. I would like to cross as many as stages I possibly can, in my lifetime. But people, today I have some sense of reality that there is nothing real and hence question everything. But it took time, it demand sacrifice, it forced me to develop emotions, and made my soul pure (I am struggling to express this in text, which means I don't understand fully).

And here is the fun fact, no one teaches me any of these things. Whatever I know (I know nothing), almost everything is self-learning. Of course, I learnt thanks to other humans - directly and indirectly. This proves the fundamental reality of our world - the power of capacity of learning already exists within us.

I absolutely loved the two paragraphs where the narrator connects the Allegory of the Cave with the real world and explain how the power of capacity of learning already exists within us. I am just adding to this essay without any alterations.

The entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon (One of the characters), to the previous argument; the prison-house (cave) is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed - whether right or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge, the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which they who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed. - WoW”

"If I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put knowledge into the soul which was not there before ( I disagree), like sight into blind eyes (this we can now, which was impossible in Plato era - we have made significant progress in the past 2000 years). However, the power of capacity of learning exists in the soul already and the eyes were unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of the knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being and learn by the degree to endure the sight of being, and of the brightness and best of being or in other words of the good - WoW!. The same concept can also be used with looking in a different direction with the sight of eyes - more like looking away from the truth".

Again, I was emotional because it felt like my personal journey. Let me repeat, I know nothing, and I have infinite stages to cross. But I am ready to put 100X more effort to cross as many stages as I can!

This also raised a valid point, the way, in our modern world we can put sight into someone’s eye, which was impossible in the Pluto era, can we redirect the knowledge available inside someone’s soul? I would love to know your thoughts!

This brings the end of another non-tech, non-startup essay. I am thinking to write an essay on love, there is available partial content as well - but love is not finding its spot in the priority list of my writing quite similar to my life (lol).

Thanks for reading! If you find my essay informative - please share this with your network!

I will see you all the next week

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