Can College Life Be Related Back to The Allegory of Plato’s Cave?

The “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato represents an extended metaphor that is to contrast the way in which we perceive and believe in what is reality. The thesis behind his allegory is the basic tenets that all we perceive are imperfect “reflections” of the ultimate forms, which subsequently represent truth and reality. When thinking about how this could connect back to college and the way our lives are run every day it seems like a perfect match to the story. Are we as students the prisoners and everyone else surrounding us the puppeteers? Are the shadows on the walls what we look for in the past, present and future or a reflection of our life as a whole? Many questions could be asked how we are the prisoners but to me it seems pretty simplistic as how. Do we misinterpret the fire and don’t really recognize what college should be like and at as those “robots” in comparison to Plato and the prisoners in the cave. What and how do we gaffe what is real for reality in contrast to what is fake but shown as that true reality.

Personally I do feel we can be connected back to the prisoners of the cave because as a college student we are some type of prisoner to the hypocrisy of it. The question comes about as prisoners of what are the shadows we see on the “wall” on a day-to-day basis? I think the truth as to what these shadows may be is hidden by the people casting the shadows to us ever since birth up until now in college. The shadows being perceived on the walls are the values, beliefs, and norms of how we should run our life and the activities and education we should participate in the run that “normal life” of ours. Ever since we were young we were taught that to be successful in life we need to be a well-rounded person that attends school to gain that sought out education. Throughout grammar school we were taught that you need to work hard and succeed so you can go to college and further that learning or you and the life you lead will not surmount to anything. Once you get to college, and the ideal form of it, the same lessons are taught to you just in a different context. You get to college and the new shadows being portrayed to you on the wall are that if you don’t succeed with the grades and participation in classes then you may not receive the “dream job” you have always wanted.

The shadows may change going from one form of education to the other but we are still stuck in the same cave, with the same restrictions and same beliefs. These could be considered the chains that keep us in the cave and don’t allow us to really experience what is out there. The chains of limitations that college brings along with it really confines what we can do as a student and doesn’t allow us to broaden our horizons. The shackles of beliefs that relate back to our major, our focus of study really minimizes our opportunity of experiencing different classes and opportunities. Once we choose our major just like high school our classes are set out for us in a stepping stone manner and we are basically told the path to follow to gain this degree. Granted we are told to take other classes non-related to our major but even those classes are limited to what we can take. These constraints don’t allow the current student to expand their knowledge in certain subjects they might want to pursue but not allowed to.

Another way that we are chained to college life that is perceived by everyone around us is due to what society thinks and feels how it should be. Society has told us since the beginning that you need an education to be successful, that you need to take these certain classes to follow your dream. The executives and bosses of the world, the companies and corporations have basically set a standard in which they will either accept or decline a person from a position available with them. We are chained to the belief of what is right for the workforce and not what is right for us individually. The world today there are no true individuals just corporation work horses that want to succeed and will do anything to achieve that success. People can say they have individuality but no one really lives up to that thought because we all fold to the pressures of school or job to please our administrators, parents, professors or bosses.

Objects being carried throughout these shadows are the images of success, images of what is right and wrong, and the representation of how your life should be laid out. You start as a child going to grammar school, then taught to advance your education through college, and then get a well-paying respectable job, get married, retire and then live the life you always wanted. The people carrying these objects are the main supporters throughout our life-like our parents starting us out with these beliefs, then the teachers and professors through school until the final step of our superiors in the workforce. I feel that all of these people could be coalesced into one group as the “administrators” of our life. They basically are the ones that have created that “stepping-stone” belief we follow daily to achieve that success. The main thing is when we get to college do some of those ideals get clouded by what really should happen. During grammar school the beliefs are instilled in us to believe what they tell us is true but college is where they put in that extra effort to keep us in continuing that belief. We get to college and have our parents telling us this is the right thing to do so we can better ourselves as a person for the future. We are told to go to school focus on school, get the good grades and don’t let anything distract you from achieving that success. The fire in our college cave could definitely be represented by the threats and promises made to us while we go to college and participate through classes. This is the fire that fuels us to do well in school so we can achieve after college in the business world. Without this fire and what entails connected to the fire the shadows of success and norms wouldn’t be able to be portrayed on our cave walls. But what the “administrators” of our life don’t realize is that once we do get to college; that fire, the shadows and control over us and our thoughts dull down and don’t have the same effect it used to have. We get here and slowly start to realize the real truth to life and what really should occur on a daily basis.

The reality outside these walls of norms, outside the shadows of normal life changes once we see the light. When I first came into college freshmen year I followed the fire and shadows and believed that the only thing college offered was that advanced education. I was brainwashed by my parents, teachers and other elders that college was not a place to screw around but a place to gain the knowledge you need to succeed in the future. I finally looked away from the shadows of the puppeteers my sophomore year and realized that I wasn’t experiencing the true reality of college. I was only following one aspect of the college life and not the other different avenues. I realized that if all I cared about was getting the good grades and surrounded my entire life with that belief I wouldn’t experience the true life and all the fun times that could be incorporated to it. Yes you come to college to get an education but these are supposed to be the best 4 years of your life where you make lifetime long friends, and have lifetime long memories. How can that be accomplished if all you do and care about is school. No person should be forced to only care about one thing which is to succeed but should be coerced into living the life for the 4 years. The real truth and reality that should be shown by the puppeteers as shadows should be the real college life. Yes it has education included in it but where are the parties, where is the extracurricular activities and friends.

As we all know parties are a main part of the college life and to be told that it isn’t right to do or participate in is wrong on their part not ours. I went my whole life and freshmen year without partying drinking or anything related to it. I got back to school sophomore year and realized that I had missed out on one of the main parts of school. Granted I got the good grades I was expected to get but I didn’t enjoy getting them at all, felt like the prisoner in the cave where I had my blinders on and didn’t see the real world. Sophomore I decided to go out of that cave and experience the reality, go to parties and just have fun on the weekends while keeping my grades up. Where we go to school there isn’t much to do around here other than schoolwork and drinking. The weekdays are used for schoolwork and achieving that success, but the weekends I have learned should be used as distressing activities to prepare yourself for the next week. I decided to live my college life differently because I saw that you can have fun while being serious and getting done what you need to get done. After sophomore year going to junior year I was much happier with what I did in the previous year compared to freshman year. I didn’t have the shadows or puppeteers telling me what to do, showing me the ideal life or ideal form of college. The ideal form of college that parents, professors, also known as the “administrators” try to show us isn’t even close to what it truly is. College is more than education; it’s the experience surrounding it because without these experiences how are you supposed to be that well-rounded person everyone wants you to be. Without those experiences all you really are is an education robot just trying to live up to the standards and wants of the people surrounding you. This may get you far in the workforce area but won’t get you to far as an individual in life.

No human is perfect in anything they do and what I have learned is college years is the time to have your mistakes and fix them so once you become that working adult hopefully you would have learned and saw the true reality of life. As in the story just like with the college ideal form, The Allegory doesn’t solely represent our own misconceptions of reality, but also Plato’s vision of what a solid leader should be. Plato and the administrators of our life have the same beliefs and try to inculcate these values, beliefs, and norms of how we should run our life to be what they couldn’t be when they were our age. They want to see us succeed through their eyes and show that we were raised the correct way, which we were raised to be successful and college had only one effect on us which is advanced learning and education. They don’t want us to leave the cave, leave the images of the shadows and show that we experienced much more than education. What they don’t realize is that with us leaving the cave and darkness we are more well-rounded and a better person now than what we would have been if we stayed. The “Allegory of the Cave,” and of the college ideal form represents a complex model as to which we are to travel through our lives and understanding. The four stages of thought combined with the progress of human development represent our own path to complete awareness in which the most virtuous and distinguished will reach, and upon doing so shall lead our lives into happiness and prosperity.

Once the students realize that what their administrators, the shadows and puppeteers have been teaching them their whole lives isn’t the full truth, the full reality they will soon come to realize change is needed. They will go through the realization process I went through after completing my freshman year and coming back sophomore year. The administrators I feel need to stop clouding the minds of the students and allow them to experience life as a whole because if we are entrapped our whole lives how are we supposed to show the different unique and individual sides of ourselves instead of the robots they want us to be.

Source by Daniel Saucier

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