The Cave

by Don Hartness

I always loved Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, simply because I, like so many others, found an excellent illustration of self-illumination. Many aspects of the allegory are just as stunning to me now as they were when I first read the story.

For example, the subject of religion. Everybody should know by now that I am a Christian. What may surprise some people is that I view religion, including Christianity, to be just another narrow-minded view of life.  Religion is just another set of chains, keeping the prisoners fixated on the shadows on the wall. If one is to grow spiritually, one has to eventually break free, overcoming one’s own religion.

Another thing that strikes me is the continual belief in our world that intellectual knowledge is the key to our evolution. In Plato’s analogy, the pursuit of knowledge through philosophy is upheld as the highest esteem. However, as history would reveal, philosophy, instead of leading humanity up and out of the cave, only led humanity into a larger cave (with maybe a sun-roof to perceive the sun, moon, and stars, but ultimately no closer than before). When the day was finished, we were still stuck in a cave.

Today, philosophy is regulated to the antiquities storeroom of the modern university; a curiosity, but of no real practical use. Science now holds the hope once held by philosophy. Yet, in spite of all of our achievements, the cracks are beginning to appear. Our culture and society is beginning to decay. Many believe that we have already seen the zenith of humanity’s achievements, and that a long, slow decent into twilight has already begun. As the day draws to a close, we find ourselves, once again, still stuck in the cave.

Perhaps the problem is our unspoken faith in apprehending reality solely through the intellect?

Plato and I agree about one thing: it’s not something you can learn from another; you can only learn it yourself…

Plato – The Allegory of the Cave