Monday, February 16, 2009

The Parable of the Cave

I taught Greek philosophy today in class. I always teach the "Parable of the Cave" from Plato's Republic. The prisoner in the cave makes his way out to see a world of new things. But when he returns to tell his fellow prisoners, they refuse to be released from their bondage and threaten death to anyone who releases them.

On their less than outstanding Pop album (I believe that Achtung Baby and The Joshua Tree set the bar way high-- Pop could only underachieve), U2 has a song called "Staring at the Sun". This song, one of my favorite of many favorite U2 songs, is Plato's "Parable of the Cave" in a metaphor.

Not just deaf and dumb
Staring at the sun
I'm not the only one
Who'd rather go blind

When the prisoner leaves the cave, he is instantly blinded by the sun. After adjusting, he sees a reality not present in the cave. It's not always comfortable-- bugs crawl, grass itches. But it's real. Unlike the "reality" of the shadows of the cave. And the others refuse to go see it.

There's an insect in your ear
If you scratch it won't disappear
It's going to itch and burn and sting
You want to see what the scratching brings

No comments: