ABSTRACT

Plato’s allegory of the cave has been a very inspiring source of reflection for many disciplines: not only the philosophical or philological, but also the social and political. The origin of the image has been in the spotlight of scholars (Wright 1906), as well as the hidden meaning of the metaphor (Hyland 2004). Considering the political relevance of the allegory, James S. Fishkin has recalled the image of the cave in his proposal of deliberative democracy: he uses the myth as a metaphor for the level of awareness that in our societies a large part of the people have about political instances (Fishkin 1995). The condition of those persons who have been constrained since their childhood to watch the shadows cast on the wall in front of them represents that of the citizens who do not take part in the political debate and who are not involved in the decision-making process. As Fishkin observes:

In the modern age, our citizens live in a high-tech version of Plato’s cave . . . Instead of puppetlike reflections from fire on a cave wall, we watch television images in our living rooms. Instead of echoed voices from the puppet manipulators, we listen to the voices of radio and television talk shows and advertisements. Like the inhabitants of Plato’s cave, we tend to take these reflected images and voices as the real world. At least in terms of our roles as citizens, things that do not happen on television have little, if any, force, vividness, or immediacy. It is the reflected images that seem real and important. They constitute the political world rather than what we can see outside ‘the cave’ with our own eyes.