University of Maryland conversation between Socrates and Glaucon Paper


GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS: Your contributions should be thoughtful and developed. Answer all parts of the question and use concepts from the course materials. Use a professional style of communication, with attention to grammar, spelling, and typos; cite your sources.

Answer ONE of the following questions and give a substantive response to at least two other students.


For this discussion, we will reflect on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and relate this philosophical story to our study of the arts. (Search YouTube to hear it narrated by the great actor Orson Welles.)

An allegory is a story where the elements are symbolic. What do you see as the symbolism of the cave, the shadows on the wall, the prisoners, the man who escapes, the daylight outside? Do you know of other stories that make similar points?

The story assumes there are major difference between “appearances” and “reality,” and that “reality” is superior. What does this mean for the arts? Arts and letters may present “appearances” quite unlike what they are depicting. In short, the style of the arts is often not “realistic.” Does this mean that what the arts convey is always more like illusion than reality? Use an example and explain your thinking.

Have you ever accepted an illusion as reality? How did you recognize that you were mistaken? Did that recognition change you in any important way, or was it more like a minor correction to your perception? Do you think that people today live in a world of “shadows”? Are we imprisoned in some way, with our minds shackled? Explain your thinking.


Read the first two-thirds of Book X from Plato’s Republic about art and imitation.

Describe how this conversation between Socrates and Glaucon relates to the Allegory of the Cave? Given the information about reality, illusion and the arts from both sources, what do you think Plato’s position on the arts is? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Now, provide an example from one of the arts that you think could be used to illustrate Plato’s position on the arts and explain how it does.


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