Allegory of the Cave

  1. Allegory of the Cave

The is a parable written by Plato in his seminalwork “The Republic” in a relentless bid to draw a comparisonbetween the impact of education and lack of it on human nature.Presented as a dialogue between Plato’s brother, Glaucon, andSocrates (Glaucon’s mentor), the Allegoryof the Cave isa story painting the picture of a cave in which prisoners are chainedfacing a wall on which there are shadows of people passing in frontof a fire behind the slaves. Essentially, in this setting, theprisoners are not in a position to see the real people, but all theysee and they know are only their shadows as they appear on the wall.These shadows represent “forms” of reality (people) as narratedby Socrates and he considers as “good” only that which knowledgeof the forms. Socrates then suggests that the most excellentindividuals must pursue the highest of all inquiries of what is goodand ultimately return to the “cave” to share with the prisonerstheir experience (Plato 211).

Differentscholars have adopted different perspectives in interpreting Plato’sAllegoryof the Cave.A majority of scholars have adopted an epistemological approach inwhich they evaluate Plato’s belief concerning how humankind comesto know nature. Other scholars, however, have adopted a politicalperspective, depicting the as a Plato’sportrayal of the political relationship that exists between thecitizens and the state. In the latter approach, the chained prisonersare viewed as citizens who are not allowed to know the realities ofthe state’s operations, but are only provided by illusions (Anas,2007). Better still, a school of thought referred to as Nettleshipconceives this allegory as depicting a society that is unwilling toseek truth and wisdom.

  1. Socrates’ Definition of Justice in the “Republic”

Afterrefuting several conceptions of what many in common parlanceconceived as justice by in the Republic,Socrates eventually defined justice as a political arrangement inwhich each individual has a role to play. In this structure of thesociety, all that is due to an individual is rendered immediately androles in the society are allocated to each person in society based ontwo operational elements: their ability to undertake the role and thesignificance of their performing the role to the larger societalinterests (Plato 229). It is important to note at this point that thedefinition ultimately adopted by Socrates encompasses the constructsof earlier definitions in the text by Polemarchus and Cephalus onlythat both of these parties had perceived justice on a narrow scale asa set of actions and not as a structure of the entire society.

Inconstructing the definition of justice, Socrates squashed thetraditional notion that justice can be explained in the context of acertain set of actions and instead justice is a set of principlesthat spread over an entire city, what he refers to as societaljustice. According to Socrates, individual justice, just as societaljustice, involves a balanced power relationship between the differentcomponents of an individual’s soul that allude to the classesinherent in societal justice. Further, Socrates described the threecomponents of the human soul in a bid to ascertain the combinationthat would lead to a just person. He observed that the human soul hadthree components that sought different things stating that therational part sought the truth, the spiritual part sought honor andthe appetitive part sought food, sex, money and drinks. He noted thatfor a person to be just, the rational part has to be dominant overthe other parts. In summary, Socrates conceives justice as astructure of the society, as principles that ought to guide humanaction rather than the actions themselves. Moreover, these principlestake into account the individual’s ability and predisposition.

  1. Friedrich Nietzsche: Impact of Early Life on His Works

FriedrichNietzsche, born in 1844, was a German philosopher and poet whoseworks shaped contemporary though by constantly questioning idealism.His early life was characterized by tragedies that completely changedhis view of the world and those around him culminating in hisradicalism in later life and works. Friedrich Nietzsche’s fatherdied of a brain ailment in 1849 when he was just five and hisbrother, Ludwig Joseph died the following year. This double tragedywas capped by the admission of Friedrich Nietzsche at Schulptorta asa pupil marking the very first time he had to stay away from hisfamily in a small conservative town. These changes in lifestyletogether with a series of events that followed soon after seem tohave had a lasting influence on his perception of the world and hebegan to question idealism.

Theearliest sign of this influence was when Friedrich Nietzsche composedan essay in honor of a radical poet named Friedrich Nietzsche, who heviewed as providing a fresh access to reality and consciousness to“the most sublime ideality”. This trend would continue and lateron in his major works, he became overly concerned with revaluation ofalmost all values in society. In most of his work, his earlyexperiences seemed to have informed two dominant themes in his works.Firstly, is his view that “life is essentially a will to power”(Nietzsche 44). He viewed life as a dynamic process of constantgrowth and adaptability. Second, he conceived life as being“intrinsically evaluative, unjust, preferring and wanting to bedistinct” (BGE 39).

  1. Nietzsche’s Idea of Will to Power

FriedrichNietzsche’s notion of Willto Poweris a description of his belief that the human will is the underlyingand the most important drive in the life of individuals. By humanwill, he implies aspirations, achievement and ambitions thatindividuals harbor amongst them. Friedrich Nietzsche used this ideato condition contemporary thinking by insinuating that just as theintrinsic human will drive an individual’s actions, individualsalso inflict their wills upon others around them (Infidels,,accessed on August 14, 2015). On a broader scale, the Willto Power,as fronted by Nietzsche, is only an underlying neomenal reality ofthe world evident in several ways in everyone and everything. In thisview, some of the fundamental tenets of the Will to Power manifestedby everything in the universe include self-preservation, growth,upward morbidity and domination.

Justas Socrates defined justice at the societal and individual level,Nietzsche did dichotomize the scope of his idea in line with thesociety and the individual. According to him, the contemporarysociety reveals more information about the nature of humanity thatdoes the individual. He, however, perceives the society as aconstraint that suppresses human will to power, leaving theindividual to make peace with mediocrity, an aspect he describes associety’s revolt against nature (Nietzsche 391). FriedrichNietzsche’s idea of Willto Powerhas been augmented into three contexts within which it can beconceived and ultimately as a structure to guide its applicability.The first context is a metaphysical approach in which any existenceis in itself a will to power. The second, psychological conceptionprescribes that the Will to Power only holds for creatures with awill while the final one, organic, advances that the notion relatesto all life in the universe (Lacewing,,accessed on August 14 2015).


BGE,aphorism 9, p.39 ThusSpoke Zarathustra: a Book for Everyone and Nobody,trans. by Graham Parkes, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005),Part I, Aphorism 15, p.52.

FriedrichWilhelm Nietzsche, BeyondGood and Evil,trans. R. J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin, 2003), Hereafter BGE.Aphorism 13, p.44.

Infidels.Nietzsche’s Will to Power.&lt

Lacewing.,M. Nietzsche on the Will to Power. accessed on August 14 2015&lt

Plato,Plato. Republic.eKitap Projesi, 2015.