Defying the Allegory

Earlier this year, my Civilizations and Culture class was assigned a project where we all had to become a pseudo-philosopher and create our own philosophy. For this, we had to read an excerpt of Sophie’s World, a long, dense novel which offers an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought. In the book, author Jostein Gaarder mentions Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” perhaps one of the most prominent allegories in philosophy, intended to compare “The effect of education and lack of it on our nature.”

Here’s how the allegory goes:

Imagine a cave, where prisoners have been ever since their childhood. They are all chained, leading them to have the inability of mobility, forcing them to look at the wall in front of them. Behind them is a fire and walkway for people to walk on. They are seen carrying everyday objects, and since the prisoners cannot move, they could only see the shadows reflected. The prisoners presume these intriguing images to be real, and if you closely pay attention to them you’ll be able to succeed in life. They don’t realize that these mere phantoms are just a representation of reality. One day, a person finds a way out of the cave and is brought into the fresh, open environment. The man becomes overwhelmed and dazzled by aspects beyond the shadows; the light of the bright sun which was much more brilliant than the fire, and actual flowers, animals and tools which made him closer to the true nature of being. The man makes his way back into the cave, sharing the exciting discovery he made. When he explains his experience, the others believe the man sounds totally unimpressive and become extremely enraged with him.

For most of our lives, we are in this cave, suck up with the idea to meet society’s expectations and reach the standard of what our definition is of “normal.” A mass of us is caught up with these certain shadows, that we, in fact, shun and judge others who communicate and interact differently. But since everyone around us believes this is genuine, we are taken in by this shadow at a young age. In fact, I remember some of my classmates throughout elementary school would tease and mock a fellow student because of their divergent character. Most times I felt distressed towards the fact that people were alright with this wrongdoing. It was not until my amazing teacher had told us that it was certainly absurd pick on someone because they are different from others.

IGNITE’s welcoming, warmhearted environment creates it to be a perfect program for people with autism to develop and grow life skills after high school. Your support to Enloe Charity Ball will not only allow this excellent program to flourish but will also help defy this ignorant standard society has set up. I know that with the hard work and dedication of my fellow peers, we will be able to achieve this goal of $200,000 and allow a glimmer of light to outcast these shadows.

Viti Pathak

Executive Service Officer


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