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MaieusisEssays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat$
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Dominic Scott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289974

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289974.001.0001

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Language in the Cave *

Language in the Cave *

(p.195) 10 Language in the Cave*

Verity Harte (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The analogy of the Cave is by far the most elaborate of Socrates' three analogies, offered in lieu of an account of the form of the Good. Even so, his exposition of the analogy takes up scarcely more than three Stephanos pages (514a1-517a7). This first page (514a1-515a3) is devoted to the mise en scène: indicating the general features of the cave and the situation of its prisoners. This is followed by a brief exploration of the depicted prisoners' state of mind (515a5-c3), offered in explanation of Socrates' claim that even if the prisoners are strange — as Glaucon would have it (515a4) — they are nevertheless ‘like us’ (515a5). This chapter explores the prisoners' use and understanding of language; what this reveals about their state of mind; and what, in turn, this contributes to an explanation of the way in which these prisoners are ‘like us’. It focuses on the three lines in which Socrates and Glaucon consider what would be true of the prisoners if they could talk (515b4-6).

Keywords:   Socrates, prisoner, Glaucon, analogy, the Good, state of mind

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