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The Allegory of the Cave and the Matrix

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  1. 1.      Explain in detail the “Allegory of the Cave" as if you were the instructor for a group of individuals unfamiliar with the story.

In the allegory, Plato’s teacher, Socrates is in conversation with Plato's brother, Glaucon. He explains how important knowledge is and shows the difference between those who have gained it and those who have not. He effectively uses an illustration of a cave. The cave is described as long and with a short wall at the center that across the cave. In the interior part of the cave, there are captives who have never faced the other side of the cave and have never looked at any other direction other than the wall. The other side of the short wall is where the cave caretaker lives and does his daily routine. He moves his animals, gets visitors and lives a normal life. On this side also, the caretaker lights a fire that provides the lighting to the cave (Figure 1). Therefore, the shadows of the captives and anything between the fire and the cave wall remains cast on the wall the slaves face. Sunlight only reaches a small part of the cave. The detainees have therefore never seen or felt the sun, the fire or anything else apart from the shadows cast on the wall. These slaves are accustomed to their lives and feel comfortable with what they know. They feel that they have the knowledge to everything that is available and could even compete on the next shadow that would be cast on the wall. They feel knowledgeable and living in reality. The sounds they hear are echoes from the wall they face, and they think that they can even distinguish who and how the sound was made. Their whole lives revolve around shadows and echoes, yet they think they know all there is to be known (Stephen, 1997). Their belief is their reality.

One of the slaves then leaves the situation and sees who actually casts the shadows and who makes the sounds they compete to identify. He doesn’t believe that it is the fire that actually causes the shadows and wants to run back to his earlier life. He does not believe that the real things are actually real and is actually tempted to believe that the shadows were more real. The freed slave then moves outside the cave to see the sun. He does not believe and never understands how the sun was the source of all the seasons that occur, and is the source of all the energy he experiences, including the fire that cast shadows on the wall. However, the slave acclimatizes and realizes that what he had been used to see on the wall was just a reflection of the reality but was very far from the reality.

The slave is then taken back to the cave to explain to fellow slaves what he had seen. They immediately disown him and declare his mind as corrupt. He becomes poor in the game to predict the shadows and the other slaves see him as foolish (Plato, 2010). He never appreciates the shadow-game anymore and his fellow slaves despise and hate him.

  1. 2.      Compare, in detail, Neo's (Mr. Anderson's) extraction from the Matrix with the Allegory of the Cave.

The two scenes involve people who are moving out of bondage. Neo was moving from the bondage of a machine controlled world while leaving other helpless people there. He uses a phone call to give them hope that anything was possible, meaning that they would also be freed at some point. On the other hand the Allegory of the cave involves a person who was moving out of bondage of slavery and little knowledge to acquiring more knowledge on the things that people came across. In both cases, the system was controlled by a person. The cave caretaker took care of the cave in the allegory while a group of people like Agent Smith ensured the prolonged life of the Matrix system.

In both cases, the redeemer exits from the bondage first then goes back to the rest of the people to save them. Anderson exits with Trinity after she had kissed him to restore his life after Agent Smith had killed him. He then goes back to Matrix where he vows to destroy it and free all those people it enslaved. In the Allegory, the freed slave goes back to the fellow slaves and is willing to give them information on reality (Plato, 2010). He is determined to pass his message despite the fierce resistance he faces from the other slaves.

It is however notable that the Allegory is based on little knowledge, whilst the Matrix is based on excessive knowledge created by humans to dominate the world.

  1. 3.       Discuss thoroughly the metaphysical implications of both scenes.

The first scene of the Allegory of the cave had several metaphysical implications. First, it depicts that knowledge is stratified and even those who know the least hold their little knowledge as the reality. They believe that what they know is the truth and uphold it with high regard. They see anyone who tries to show them otherwise as unwise and with a corrupt mind. Those in the cave believed that shadows and echoes were the reality of the world and thought they were very highly knowledgeable. They even competed on who was better than the other with the shadows and echoes. This shows that they even stratified what they knew and followed a system that showed who was better than the other. When one of them pulls himself out of the bondage, he realizes that there was much more that they did not know. It is interesting that he goes back to the cave to try and enlighten those who did not know. In their eyes he looked stupid but his mission was good and well timed.

            In the Matrix, the people are very knowledgeable and have built an integrated system that would interconnect the human race with the machines. Neo goes to the Oracle to determine if he was the prophesied ‘The One’, but the Oracle refuses to acknowledge him. He however turns out to be The One and is eventually filled with superhuman strength and easily destroys the Matrix crusaders. He and Trinity escape from the captivity of the Matrix. However, Neo goes back later and makes a pledge to all those who have been trapped in the system that he would eventually save them

            In both cases, we see a situation where some is being redeemed. Once the person gets free, the redeemed people do not forget the people they suffered with and eventually go back to their bondage to save their friends. The newly acquired strength or knowledge should be wisely used to redeem those who still suffer in the bondage.

  1. 4.      Then, explain metaphysically and epistemologically the scene where the Oracle interviews Neo for the position of "The One."

The Oracle has very many children and is displayed as a mother. The children are diverse in character and carry out many different activities. Neo meets a child trying to bend a spoon and the child gives the spoon to him. As he tries to bend it, the Oracle warns him that there was no spoon. This metaphysically shows that they were really living in a different world from the reality.

When the Oracle goes into the house with Neo, he seems not to accept being the One and the Oracle feels that he needs more time to rediscover himself. Morpheus has convinced Neo that he was The One. She knows that Neo was The One and she shows her seriousness when Neo smiles and the Oracle wonders why he does. However, she still waits for Neo to discover the he is The One and wants him to declare that himself.

Epistemologically, it shows that there has to a struggle and uncertainty during redemption. Neo has to decide on his future and has to either sacrifice himself or Morpheus. There is also need for the feeling of redemption and inner strength to come off the redeemer and should never be induced. Neo had to prove his ability as The One by declaring his capability above the Matrix. The oracle shows her trust and believe of Neo being The One by telling him that by the time he will be finished eating a cookie she gave him, he would be better, meaning that he would discover his strengths.




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