Plato’s Cave Allegory Brought to Life with Claymation

In Book VII of The Repub­lic, Pla­to paints a dark scene for read­ers. Imag­ine pris­on­ers shack­led in a cave, their heads chained in such a way they can’t look out into the world itself. They can only see manip­u­lat­ed shad­ows on walls, and that’s about all. Known as the “alle­go­ry of the cave,” this pas­sage lets Pla­to offer com­men­tary about the nature of real­i­ty and human under­stand­ing. In an episode of Phi­los­o­phy Bites, Simon Black­burn (Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty) talks with Nigel War­bur­ton and David Edmonds about what Pla­to real­ly wants to say here. And, above, some clever artists pro­vide an award-win­ning ani­ma­tion of the cave scene using noth­ing oth­er than clay. Big thanks to Eren at Fil­mAn­nex for send­ing this one our way.

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Hear John Malkovich Read Plato’s “Alle­go­ry of the Cave,” Set to Music Mixed by Ric Ocasek, Yoko Ono & Sean Lennon, OMD & More

Orson Welles Nar­rates Ani­ma­tion of Plato’s Cave Alle­go­ry

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Comments (12)
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  • Berto says:

    There’s a bet­ter qual­i­ty ver­sion of that same video (and a bit of an analy­sis of the alle­go­ry) here:

  • Carol A says:

    Thanks for this — as a long-time read­er of Pla­to. As a method of explain­ing con­cepts the clay ani­ma­tions are very effec­tive. Maybe some­one with a lot of time on their hands could do some more?

  • Robert Matthew says:

    But what is reall..For the prios­neer released his real­i­ty has changed con­cider­abely. But for the ones still chained, the cave is real­i­ty. This is Platos point I believe. Could this scratch the sur­face of awak­en­ings, to dis­cov­ery? Or does it emply one of the human con­di­tions, that change, how­ev­er good and breath­take­ing, is looked on by fear and unac­cep­tance.

  • Anshuman says:

    Very well done!
    The back­ground music, inci­den­tal­ly, is a Rajasthani folk ren­di­tion of the Bol­ly­wood musi­cal num­ber “Kajara re” :-).

  • Junior Agogo says:

    Awe­some video…like a pris­on­er in the cave, it’s like being released to go out­side and explore!

  • Jehnavi says:

    But most pris­on­ers resist to what the freed indi­vid­ual has to say about the out­side world. For the pris­on­ers, the shad­ow is the only real­i­ty, and their ethics revolve around the real­i­ty of the shad­ows. If a freed pris­on­er talks about the out­side world, it would obvi­ous­ly not be believed until they see it them­selves

  • Erik says:

    well done. For me this alle­gor­i­cal sto­ry fits very well with the idea of a more real world behind this dream world. Once in the more real world, after death, no-one can return„ but in the same shad­ow form to tell mor­tals left behind, for now, about the more real world, or ‘the oth­er realm, as Ani­ta Moor­jani calls it, hav­ing expe­ri­enced it, AND returned to tell us in the lan­guage of THIS world which is only able to give a faint idea of the oth­er realm/life!!!

  • ade says:

    The alle­go­ry of the cave is often told to peo­ple in a cave ;) I liked the video.

  • andi says:

    Peo­ple some­times post things that imply that there is a real world away from my com­put­er, this almost explains such a place.

  • Bril­liant. An obser­va­tion: The pris­on­ers’ dis­be­lief is root­ed in their non-recog­ni­tion of their friend (the per­son is seen as object). The inte­ri­or of their prison remained unchanged.

  • Paul Lamb says:

    I’ve always believed that going to the movies is a mod­ern-day equiv­a­lent for this. Peo­ple in a dark place star­ing at a wall with images from a light source behind them flick­er­ing on it, mis­tak­ing it for real­i­ty and mak­ing them less able to cope with the real world out­side.

  • JB says:

    Van Hels­ing: [to Dr. Jack Seward] Jack, you are a sci­en­tist; do you not think there are things in this Uni­verse that you can­not under­stand and which are true?

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