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Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - Alex Gendler

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Twenty four hundred years ago, Plato, one of history’s most famous thinkers, said life is like being chained up in a cave forced to watch shadows flitting across a stone wall. Beyond sounding quite morbid, what exactly did he mean? Alex Gendler unravels Plato's Allegory of the Cave, found in Book VII of The Republic.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director John R. Dilworth
  • Animator Pilar Newton
  • Sound Designer William Hohauser
  • Script Editor Addison Anderson
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Want to read the Allegory of the Cave in its complete format? Go to this site and get started. To better understand the allegory’s larger context, try reading the rest of The Republic by Plato and these classic lectures. Then, check out this modern scientific interpretation of what it tells us about human knowledge.

Want to see two different visual representations of this allegory? Watch this version of Plato’s allegory in clay animation or this one narrated by Orson Welles! Each is a bit different, but provide a unique representation of Plato’s allegory. How does the visual representation give you a different perspective from reading the Allegory of the Cave?

You may also want to read a summary of the Theory of Forms and how it relates to language. Even if none of that interests you, chances are you’ve already seen the Allegory of the Cave interpreted as a major blockbuster film.

Interested in comparing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to a real-life issue such as alcohol and addiction? Visit the New York Times Learning Network Text to Text and follow the lesson. Read through it and compare the two texts presented. What other everyday situations can Plato’s allegory help us understand?

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director John R. Dilworth
  • Animator Pilar Newton
  • Sound Designer William Hohauser
  • Script Editor Addison Anderson
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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