Plato’s Allegory of the Cave appears in a section of the Republic called ‘The Supremacy of Good’ where he stresses the importance of goodness as a universal goal. The allegory is presented as a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, Plato’s brother. Although written in around 380 BC, the allegory (and indeed the rest of the Republic) has strong relevance today for men unplugging from conventional thinking about women and society – in fact, it could be taken as a metaphor for this process.
Plato introduces the allegory as ‘an analogy for the human condition – for our education, or lack of it.’
‘Imagine people living in a cavernous cell down under the ground; at the far end of the cave, a long way off, there’s an entrance open to the outside world. They’ve been there since childhood, with their legs and their necks tied up in a way which keeps them in one place and allows them to look only straight ahead.’
They are kept captive ‘since childhood’ and only allowed to look in one direction. This is the experience of many brought up in contemporary Western culture. Here, awareness of the world is mediated by mainstream culture: television, movies, celebrity’s Twitter feeds and Instagram accounts.
‘Imagine also that there are people on the other side of this wall who are carrying all sorts of artefacts. These artefacts, human statuettes, and animal models carved in stone and wood and all kinds of materials stick out over the wall; and as you’d expect, some of the people talk as they carry these objects along, while others are silent … they’re no different to us … do you think they’d see anything of themselves and one another except the shadows cast by the fire on to the cave wall directly opposite them.’
The captives, who are ‘no different to us’ are not only solipsistic, unaware of those around them, but crucially what they think they know of the world is false. In fact, they are only seeing shadows. More than this, they are seeing shadows of objects that are themselves only effigies of real things – statuettes, models and so on. They are not one but two steps removed from reality.
Robin Waterfield, who translated the Republic in 1993, speculates that ‘the bearers of the effigies may be the poets, politicians, and so on who have formed the prisoners’ views about morality and similar matters.’ In other words, the manner in which they see the world has been carefully formed for them by those with a clear agenda:
- Poets (read: artists) seeking profit or to support the dominant political ideology. Two modern examples are the music industry and reality television, which lull the viewer into a false sense of comfort while simultaneously promoting the virtues of acquisition in a feminised culture.
- Politicians concerned with maintaining their own power.
In truth, the two act in concert in maintaining the system we are familiar with in 21st century Western society which promotes docile, sheep-like inactivity in the masses.
‘What do you think would happen . . . if they were set free from their bonds … Imagine one of them has been set free and is suddenly made to stand up, to turn his head and walk, and to look towards the firelight. It hurts him to do all this and he’s too dazzled to be capable of making out the objects whose shadows he’d formerly been looking at. And suppose someone tells him that what he’s been seeing all this time has no substance and that now he’s closer to reality and is seeing more accurately because of the greater reality of the things in front of his eyes. . . Don’t you think he’d be bewildered and would think that there was more reality in what he’d been seeing before than in what he was being shown now?’
Here we find a perfect analogy for ‘taking the red pill.’ Typically, when a guy first stumbles on game and the manosphere, a change occurs in his perception of the world that can be described as an awakening. You often hear of men who spend days, even weeks reading blogs and books, going from one head-smacking realisation to the next as their former certainties are dashed and their suspicions about the true nature of women and relationships are confirmed. Certainly, that was how it was for me. This often presages a period of disbelief and denial – surely this isn’t really how things are? It can’t all be true, can it? Rather than face the firelight of reality, he would instead prefer to ‘run back to the things he can make out’ – the shadows.
But things only get worse from here. Plato then has Socrates describe the prisoner being dragged from the cave and out into the sunlight:
‘Wouldn’t this treatment cause him pain and distress? And once he’s reached the sunlight, he wouldn’t be able to see a single one of the things which are currently taken to be real, would he, because his eyes would be overwhelmed by the sun’s beams.’
The road to enlightenment, the shedding of one’s illusions, is never easy, especially when these illusions have been present since childhood. Staring reality in the face is like staring directly at the sun – it is painful. This is why many men choose to retreat back into blue pill thinking. For them it is simply too painful to do otherwise.
Gradually though, the man who persists is able to adjust to his new circumstances. The released prisoner is at first able to discern only shadows, then real people, then the stars and the moon, and then finally the sun, before coming to understand its role as life’s progenitor.
The Intelligible Realm
In this new state of awareness, the former captive feels sorry for the remaining prisoners who have built up a whole belief system on false premises. Conversely, should he to return to the cave, its inhabitants would reject his newfound wisdom, and would sooner kill him then allow him to rescue them. Such is the attachment that many of us had to our former thinking. But for Plato, striving towards ‘the intelligible realm’, the ‘source and provider of truth and knowledge [synonymous here with ‘goodness’] is a prerequisite for intelligent conduct either of one’s own private affairs or of public business.’ In other words, as hard as it may be, it is vital for men to seek ‘truth and knowledge’ and to stare life directly in the face if they wish to be successful in relationships or in the wider world. This is manifestly true – one need only think of the many examples of men whose success with women has been improved significantly with game, or whose business lives have been transformed using red pill principles.
Perhaps most importantly, Plato has Socrates go on to say that the educated must go back down to the cave to share the benefits of their experience with the remaining captives. In the context of Republic, this is about government: it is better for a community when its rulers are awake. The analogy still holds good for our purposes, though. There is an old saying that goes ‘you have to give it away to keep it.’
If you are reading Return Of Kings, it is likely that you have a more advanced understanding of the way things really are than many of your friends. Try to help them out – there’s no need to get on your soap box, but just seed out little nuggets of red pill knowledge when appropriate. If a guy wants to know more then tell him. Direct him to this website. Let’s treat our blue-pill brethren kindly. It is better for our society if we do so, and besides, we all know where they came from, because we once resided there too, before we were dragged, blinking, out into the sunlight.
Read More: The Education Of Alciabides By Socrates