Schur, David. 2015. Plato's Wayward Path: Literary Form and the Republic. Hellenic Studies Series 66. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_SchurD.Platos_Wayward_Path.2015.
6. Imagining Images in Chains
The Cave in Socrates’ Fictional Narrative
The Greatest Studies
In the context of discussing the earlier discussion, Socrates’ swipe at those unspecified people who sometimes compromise too soon leaves room for his fellow investigators to save face by revising their past acceptance, while Adeimantus takes the additional step of deploring a weakness that afflicts some unspecified people.
A Series of Explanatory Comparisons
For the purposes of my analysis, three things about this difficult passage deserve mention. The first is the recursive interdependence of the two regions. The same things that were physical objects in the visible region are here merely images. Hence in the larger hierarchy the shadowy and reflected images are like the physical objects; the physical objects are like the intelligible objects; and the intelligible objects are like the Forms, which are intelligible by virtue of the Good—all in a theoretical hierarchy of likeness, which is being described by Socrates in a hierarchy of verbal likenesses.
Self-Reflection in the Cave
So Socrates’ Divided Line leads into an elaborate and extended “image” or “likeness” (eikōn, 515a, 517a]). Increasing the rhetorical complexity of image-making here, Socrates uses an imperative, asking his audience to make the likeness, as though each viewer should make a version or copy of the image that Socrates is describing. The Greek verb apeikazō ‘to form a likeness, copy, compare with’ (from the same family as eikazō ‘to make a likeness’ and eikōn ‘likeness’) strongly links the conversational procedure of likening to eikasia, the just-mentioned kind of knowledge that occupies the lowest part of the Divided Line.
Conditions in the Cave