Connections between Plato’s Allegory of the Cave & Galileo Galilei’s Dialogue of Two Chief World System Research Paper

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Throughout history, the understanding of human nature has been a complex phenomenon. Scholars, philosophers, researchers and the laymen, have been reading different scripts, concerning the real nature of human society and human thinking. Different philosophers, including Plato and Galileo, have offered insightful ideas concerning the actual nature of human mind and the society in general.

The segregation of mankind on knowledge has been provided by these two philosophers. Based on their ideas, rejection of new ideas is the rule in human society. Mankind is always suspicious of new things and knowledge concerning his surrounding.

In regards to Plato’s Allegory of the cave and Galileo Galilei’s Dialogue of Two Chief World Systems, the human society is highly segregated on knowledge and awareness, concerning what is true or false.

A strong connection exists between the ideas of the two philosophers, Plato and Galileo, whereby, the actual nature of human mind and the nature of learning have been exposed. The philosophers and the laymen are living in two distinct worlds, as far as knowledge and understanding of the globe is concerned.


Due to the different levels of knowledge of people in the society, there is a very great challenge in the way people learn. The nature of human kind is always suspicious of new ideas. In this case, people who are ignorant or unaware of their world, always perceive new ideas as crazy, needless, unreal and to some extent, as heresy. In regards to the inferences of Plato and Galileo, people are living in mere darkness of their world.

Little or no concern is shown in seeking new ideas or knowledge. The restrictive structures of the human society also inhibit the endeavors of mankind from seeking knowledge. This is evident through the case of Plato, where he depicts humanity as prisoners in a cave.

This scenario implies the denial of knowledge and the ignorance of people, concerning their own world. These ideas are also evident in Galileo’s inferences, whereby, a huge gap of knowledge exists between philosophers and the layman, concerning the universe (Boyum 547).

The concept of the Cave developed by Plato, illustrates the ignorance of the human society as far as philosophical education is concerned. Plato equates the prisoners of the cave as the laymen who are unaware of their world. Majority of the human society are living in the dark, and are not educated like the philosophers.

This is a huge proportion of the society, which is only dependent on the ideas and knowledge offered to them by the philosophers. According to Plato, the journey out of the cave is only through philosophical education. According to Boyum (547), people pass through different stages in their endeavors of gaining light concerning their world. People in the cave are highlighted as living in the dark and only hear echoes and see shadows.

The concepts of denial, rejection and suspicion, overwhelm people in the cave. As outlined by Boyum (547), everything in the cave is constantly shifting, ephemeral, flickering and impossible to pin.

Basic knowledge is usually unattainable to the laymen, due to their insubstantiality and instability. It is worth noting that the human society is a world of intermediates, whereby, nothing is fixed, and everything is ambiguous (Boyum 547).

The process of philosophical education or learning has been jeopardized by the suspicion between people. Boyum (4) argues that human souls are turned towards particulars, whereby, people seek to judge the just or practicability of new ideas. The need to differentiate between truth and false, is a key phenomenon in the nature of human learning.

In order to move out of the cave, the uneducated persons are usually compelled by the educated to understand. This is the philosophical education whereby, the philosophers share their knowledge with the layman. Due to their ignorance, the laymen who are equated to prisoners in the cave, have no option other than believe the knowledge offered by the philosophers (Boyum 6).

According to Zamir (92), the parable of the cave by Plato, is a nice presentation of the real nature of mankind. The cave dwellers or the laymen are ignorant of what is around them. The sculptures and artifacts presented to the cave dwellers concerning the outside world, are usually ignored by the cave dwellers due to their ignorance.

Unlike the philosophers or the educated individuals, the cave dwellers are not in a position to see themselves or their neighbors. A high level of ignorance concerning self-knowledge as well as knowledge on who they communicate with exists among the non-philosophers.

It is interesting to note that neither the cave dwellers nor the philosophers have command of their knowledge. This is evident from the opposition the philosophers face from cave dwellers, towards their knowledge which is not based on mere intellectualization (Zamir 92).

The concept of the cave by Plato is meant to exemplify the dividing lines in the human society. The misrepresentations, forms and visible realities in the human society concerning knowledge, are depicted in the concept of the cave. Plato conveyed the knowledge that the laymen are like prisoners, since what they hear does not come from what they see rather from shadows and echoes.

The misrepresentations in the society from the few elites, are the source of the sounds people hear. Based on the concept of the cave, people learn from what they see or hear. The ideas of the philosophers, are believed to contribute a lot to the growth of philosophical education. The people living in the dark or the illiterate only belief in shadows they see as reality.

The shadow makers or opinion makers compel the cave dwellers to belief or act in a certain manner and belief it to be truth. In this form of world, people belief whatever enters their mind regardless of its source or nature. People in the cave come to learn from shadows and echoes, and have no power to differentiate between illusion and reality, truth and false, genuine and pseudo or legitimate and phony (Miles 900).

Among the three divisions of people, including the illiterate, semiliterate and literate, the literate are perceived to be the most knowledgeable. The illiterates and semi literate depend on the knowledge and ideas offered by the literates or the philosophers. The educated are referred to the erudite of the world, and help in passing knowledge to the other sphere of the society.

It is worth noting that the elites or the philosophers have been liberated from the caves of ignorance. The path of gaining knowledge for this group of people is not much easy, whereby, they pass through different challenges. By gaining knowledge, the philosophers were able to move from the cave of darkness to the brightness of the sunlight (Martin 6).

In regards to the ideas of Galileo Galilei concerning the two chief world systems, the human society is clearly segmented on knowledge. The laymen and the philosophers live in different worlds of knowledge. As evident in the case of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Galileo Galilei’s Dialogue of Two World Systems depicts the lines dividing the human society.

The lower segment of the society which composes of the illiterates, has little or no understanding, about the world they are. Despite being the majority, the uneducated have no idea about their society. This is contrasted to the massive knowledge and awareness of the philosophers or the elites, concerning the world. In his book, Galileo has explicitly demonstrated the knowledge gap in the human society.

Based on the dialogue between Salivati, Simplicio and Sagrado, the ignorance of the uneducated concerning their world is demonstrated. Galileo has been able to highlight the darkness, in which the layman live in. The submissive nature and innocence of the laymen to believe what is taught to them by the philosophers, is demonstrated (Galilei 53).

Based on the insights offered by Galileo, the suspicion and rejection of people on new knowledge is evident. Despite the eager of people to receive new ideas, they are usually skeptical of what is taught to them and always undermine it as heresy, needless, unreal and crazy.

This is very evident in Galileo Galilei’s Dialogue of Two Chief World Systems, whereby, Copernican theory is accepted and Ptolemaic theory is rejected. It is worth noting that the line between truth and false is never clear in the human society, thus challenging the authenticity of the ideas offered by philosophers (Galilei 1).

A point worth of consideration is that people can live in their level of imagination or level of perception, and still be satisfied with their lifestyle. People always know and are willing to know that what they imagine or perceive is the truth. This poses challenges in philosophical education, whereby, people are not ready to adopt ideas offered by their colleagues.

Though the point of change from darkness is painful and usually overwhelmed by denial, one usually finds it rewarding and adopts it. People who have broke the chains of ignorance and moved to the brightness of the sunlight, find life rewarding.

This makes it impossible to move back to the lower stages. In light with these scenarios, people in the lower segment are more eager to believe what the philosophers have for them than vice versa (Jerry 98).


The discussion has clearly shown the real human nature, which is overwhelmed by knowledge segmentation. The society is divided into different lines, based on the knowledge and awareness of people. The un-educated, who form the majority, are believed to be in a cave of darkness and have no understanding about what happens outside the cave.

This is in contrast to the educated or philosophers, who have been liberated from the chains of darkness and have massive understanding about their world, themselves and their neighbors. Both Plato and Galileo have offered insightful ideas concerning the different worlds in which people live, based on their ignorance or knowledge.

The path of learning is not easy, since each person has confidence and satisfaction in what he/she imagines or perceives. This has made it difficult for people to adopt new knowledge, due to the overwhelming rejection, suspicion and denial on new things.

The difficulty in differentiating truth and false is a great challenge in human learning, which in this case, contributes to opposition on new ideas. With this analysis, it is evident that a strong connection exists between Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Galileo Galilei’s Dialogue of Two Chief World Systems, concerning the nature of humankind.

Works Cited

Bøyum, Steinar. “The Concept of Philosophical Education.” Educational Theory 60.5 (2010): 543-559. Print.

Galilei, Galileo. Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican. London: University of California Press, 1962. Print.

Galilei, Galileo. Dialogue concerning the two Chief World Systems. Webexhibits, 28 May 2012. Web.

Jerry, Gill. “Re-exploring Plato’s Cave.” Philosophy Today 38. 1 (1994): 98-112. Print.

Martin, Iddon. “Plato’s Chamber of secrets on Eavesdropping and Truths.” Performance Research 15.3 (2010): 6-10. Print.

Miles, Groth, and Elizabeth Shaw. “The Essence of Truth: On Plato’s Cave Allegory and Theatetus.” Review of Metaphysics 58. 4 (2005): 900-901. Print.

Zamir, Tzachi. “The Face of Truth.” Metaphilosophy 30.1 (1999): 79-94. Print.

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