“Allegory of the Cave” Knowledge is the one “thing” that cannot be taken away from a person. In prisons and concentration camps, men are often striped down until they have nothing; yet what they do possess is whatever is in their minds. Thus, for leaders, it is important to control their subjects’ minds from the beginning, as this is the only to ensure that they can sustain their power. For even if the authority starves and beats their people, the people will still have the knowledge in their mind.
To prevent this, leaders realize that to control their people, they must control knowledge. Plato, witnessing this very attempt to control knowledge in his own society, writes of the issue in Allegory of the Cave. The subjects of the society, he writes, are prisoners chained in a cave, with their heads fixated on a single wall. The only images they see are shadows; these shadows are cast by puppets, and are illuminated by a fire. These prisoners are shielded from the sun and its light, and have no knowing of its existence – the only light they know of is the fire.
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Plato intends for his audience to recognize that the leaders control the fire and puppets and in doing so, they control the knowledge of their subjects and how they think. The leaders shield the people from the sun, hiding the actual truth and real knowledge from their people, forcing them to believe only what they show them from the puppet show. This writing exposes the power of knowledge, and the influence it can have on society. Perhaps Plato realized that the knowledge and information given to us by our leaders is not the truth, but only what they want us to believe is the truth.