Reflection of Plato “Allegory of the Cave” in Todays Society by lifemate


									Daiva Kuncaite
HUP 101

                 Reflection of Plato “Allegory of the Cave” in Today’s Society

       “Allegory of the Cave” is a dialog between Socrates and Gloucon in “The Republic”

written by Plato. The image of the cave is a universal picture of the human conditions that

applies to everyone. It questions the justice created by the society and human nature. The idea

conveyed through the dialogue thousands of years ago is so general that examples could be

found in today‟s society as well.

       In the beginning Socrates draws the mental image of the cave to his student. The cave is

long and dark, but at the opening to the cave you can see some light coming in. In the cave there

are humans chained as prisoners facing the wall and who are allowed to turn their heads and look

around. They watch the shadows on the wall presented by the puppeteers behind the wall that

stands between the burning fire and prisoners. The chained prisoners are happy because they had

been fed by the shadows since birth. They have never been outside the cave and they don‟t have

the desire to go there. However, one prisoner with the help of a wise man like the philosopher

liberates himself from the dark cave, sees the puppeteers producing images, and realizes that the

shadows in the cave are not real. He also sees the sun which represents the ultimate meaning of

life. Since the prisoner must return to the cave after his journey, the truth which he had unveiled

is going to change his life.

       According to the Socrates image of the cave, all humans born in the society are prisoners

who are chained by the society‟s rules and regulations that everyone must follow. All

puppeteers, on the other hand, are leaders of the society or government that creates those rules

and regulations to keep the prisoners happy in the society. Their job is to produce images to the

prisoners and keep them happy. As an example of the image of the cave in our society I would
Daiva Kuncaite
HUP 101

like to analyze fast food restaurant chains across America, and an increase in the health problems

related to the high calorie food.

       Fast food restaurant owners are the puppeteers that feed people with the images. First

they created catchy logos like “McDonalds” with dancing clown and opened a franchise – a

restaurant chain where each restaurant looks the same. This image served as a trademark for

people or prisoners who could recognize the image anywhere in the world. The puppeteers also

presented a picture of the menu: a hamburger, french fries and a soda. With the help of media

they spread the images of the food and restaurant chains worldwide. The commercials on the TV

were attractive, because you could see generous portions of fresh and juicy hamburgers served

on the customers plates and overjoyed children eating the french fries. You want to be one of

those people and experience the same joy of eating as you saw in the commercial. Food images

seen on the TV, magazines and newspapers amplify people‟s curiosity to come and try the food.

The taste was phenomenal and ensnared the people to return to the outlets to have the same meal

over and over again.

       I have understood the power of image when the first “McDonalds” restaurant was opened

in Lithuania. The preexisting concept that this restaurant belongs to the famous restaurant chain

in America, and whose commercials are on the television 24/7 made it popular overnight. With

the high prices compared to the ethnic food, it became a place of family dining at special

occasions. The commercials promoting „McDonald‟s restaurant was formulated to attract the

families with kids to celebrate their birthdays instead of advertising the restaurant as a place to

get quick lunches.
Daiva Kuncaite
HUP 101

        However, according to the Socrates, puppeteers only show the images that make the

prisoners happy. Therefore, the hospitality of the fast food restaurants and efficient cu stomer

service satisfied hungry prisoners who frequented the outlets more than ever. Fast food

restaurants never revealed the true facts about the dangerous side effects of their served meals,

because they knew that the truth would be harmful to the society. People would be devastated to

find that their favorite meal is unhealthy. However, some prisoners have found the truth and

made the necessary changes in their diet and meal choices. These prisoners can be related to the

liberated prisoner in the Socrates “Allegory of the Cave”, who can see that the images created by

the fast food restaurants are not real. In reality, the food is greasy, contains enormous amount of

calories, and a health risk.

        Puppeteers change their marketing techniques according to the economical situation of

the society. Today, the fast food restaurants are concentrating on low and middle income families

by marketing a dollar value menu. For example, „Dunkin Donuts‟ started „breakfast not a

brokefast” commercial after the economic crisis affected consumer spending. Therefore, people

are happy getting cheap meals, and the company is happy because they are successful in their

marketing strategies which are going to reap them benefits.

        Prisoners, on the other hand, are not victims. The demand for fast food increased with

increasing pace of life in American society. America is as capitalistic country where time is

money and most people don‟t have time to cook. With both parents working, the children are left

to survive on the fast food. The time given for lunch break at work is not enough to commute

home and have a proper meal. These reasons have led people to choose fast food over home

cooked meal. According to the public demand, puppeteers created more images to satisfy the
Daiva Kuncaite
HUP 101

growing needs of the population. Since the life is getting busier, they created drive through

system, where you don‟t even need to step out of the car and get your favorite food. Also, today

people are willingly choosing fast foods even when they see the calorie contents on the menu.

Even though the research shows that fast food causes serious health problems like obesity and

diabetes, the knowledge doesn‟t seem to scares them from eating fast food and preventing health


       Fast food restaurants bring a lot of money indirectly to the health care system. Since the

food is packed with enormous amounts of calories and not long time ago – trans fats, caused

obesity and heart problems especially in children. Most commercials advertising fast foods are

directed towards children. However, that is an investment for the support of the future health

care system, because obesity causes further health related problems.

       In conclusion, the Socrates ideas about the society, justice and nature are still relevant to

today‟s society. People are prisoners that are being led by the images created by the puppeteers

or leaders of the society. They are trying to keep us happy by creating glamorous images like the

fast food commercials. Puppeteers also change their techniques according to the economic

situation or social demands. Therefore, prisoners are not always the victims of manipulations.

The prisoner‟s complaints demand better performance from the puppeteers who find ways to

satisfy the needy prisoners at any cost.

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