The prisoner is now out in the open free to look at the sunlight that surrounds him. It is here that they now see the originals to what they previously only saw models and puppets. They are enlightened a step further. However some are still destined to stay at this level too chained unable to see further. In reality this stage is reached through training in music, gymnastics and maths. The final stage to absolute truth according to Plato is when the prisoner is finally motivated by rational desires and able to see the reasons for the shadows, models and originals.
The prisoners at this stage are no longer motivated by personal benefits. Their purpose in life becomes to educate and free other minds of this cave. It is because they don’t want to rule is why they are best suited to rule. 8 The stages have truths have been utilised one by one and it could be argued that it is this pursuit of truth is truth since the cave is about progressing through to light. However it is unclear on how the prisoners are able to advance to the next stage in the allegory. The underlying question is what happens that makes them question deeper.
Must it be some life changing experience that makes us realise that were are living in a cave, that we have not yet advanced as human beings into looking for supreme happiness which is brought about by learning truth. 9 It is in the novel by Tolstoy that see’s a high court judge that has been living an upper middle class life with his family battle a deadly illness. 10 Because he never saw it happening to him he lived a life of ruthlessness and self-interest. A life that was lived by what others expected from him. He eventually reflects upon this and begins to understand that the more successful he got the more unhappy he felt.
He begins to look at himself in a new light and ponders on how he could have lived a different and maybe more productive happier life. He thus begins to feel sorrow for those in the life he will be leaving; his family, friends and colleagues as they will be left in a world full of artificialness. Whilst Ivan’s family is battling over their inheritance he is just happy that he realised there is more to life than material possessions and what is expected of them form society. This is why he dies in a feeling of euphoria knowing he has excelled on his journey to truth.
11 There is also an ancient legend about two passionate male lovers in 2500 B. C. of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. 12 Gilgamesh was a ruler of great city who didn’t care much for his position, as he was deeply involved in love affairs with numerous women. The Gods one day decided to give Gilgamesh a companion that would distract him and give him the love he has been craving for such a long time. They send a man named Enkidu who is the protector of all animals in the wild and who considers himself to be the greatest warrior on the plant.
Gilgamesh gets word of this and sends over a prostitute to lure him in. He eventually does and the two mighty warriors end up fighting. Gilgamesh ends up winning after and epic fight around the city. However rather than kill Enkidu Gilgamesh decides to spare his life and the two become great lovers then on after conquering many places. But the God’s believe that Gilgamesh and Enkidu are getting too strong. Ishtar who falls in love with Gilgamesh only to find rejection is then summoned by the gods to curse Enkidu with a deadly disease.
Enkidu dies regardless of how hard Gilgamesh tried to save his lover. Gilgamesh stunned and shocked by his death decides that there must be more to life and sets off on a quest to find eternal life. It another life changing event that triggers an emotion inside the brain that fuels the desire to explore and advance their knowledge of truth. Every prisoner responds to a certain call from within, and it is this which makes them question themselves and the surroundings around them. Plato’s can thus be interpreted as having stages to truth and certain events that lead up to sunlight; being truth.
However in order to understand truth it is essential to look at what other philosophers thought of this much debated subject. Frederick Nietzsche much considered himself an adversary to Plato and his take on truth is highlighted ones will for power. 13 Nietzsche believes that untruth could be better than truth as long as it provides a will for the person in question to continue living and producing a life enhancing consequence. He is more interested in the will to power rather than truth itself as he believes truth is more insignificant compared to the desires that a human being craves.
When compared to Plato’s theory, Nietzsche’s statements seem more truthful as it births the question of why should one suffer or damage itself in the belief that this is truth and the moral thing to do. Would one not be more supremely happy if they chose and ‘untruth’ compared to what Plato would consider a ‘truth’. If one action of a human being or a prisoner is destructive to themselves; then isn’t this wrong? The untruth could in essence be more true to them for their personal benefit of happiness. The will to power theory of Nietzsche is a large enough counter-attack on Plato’s allegory of the cave.
If the prisoners in the cave are happy and no nothing better, they are in essence fooling themselves, however they could rightly or wrongly be happy. 14 The search for truth in Plato’s allegory of the cave in theory should lead to supreme happiness. So if one is already happy it begs the question of is it necessary? According to Nietzsche the answer is the will to power. The argument to whether truth is subjective or objective has been around for centuries. But doesn’t this prove that truth must be subjective because there have been disputes on what it actually is.