The Allegory of the Cave (in Plato’s Republic)
What is an allegory?
Explain to the students that an allegory is a kind of story in which what happens is being compared to something else that is similar and unstated.
Read the Allegory of the Cave together.
Ask: What do you think the Allegory of the Cave is being compared with?
Then break students up into small groups for a discussion of the discussion questions. (Each group should choose a reporter to write down the group’s responses and report back to class when class comes back together.)
- Would you want to be released from the cave? Why or why not?
- What is like the cave in our world?
- How is the way you understand the world, your ideas and beliefs, shaped by the actions of others?
- Who has the power to shape your ideas and beliefs? In what ways is this good and in what ways is it not so good?
- Are there things you know to be true? What are they, and how do you know them?
- What is Plato trying to tell us in the allegory?
- How can we know things about the world? Through perception? Through reason?