"However, if (among the people) in the previous dwelling place (namely, in the cave) certain honors and commendations were established for whoever most clearly catches sight of what passes by (the things that happen every day) and also best remembers which of them normally is. brought by first, which ones later, and which ones at the same time, and for whoever (then) could most easily foresee which ones might come by next - do you think that he (the one who had gotten out of the cave) would (now still) envy those (in the cave) and want to compete with those (there) who are esteemed and who have power? Or would he not much rather wish upon himself the condition Homer speaks of: 'Living on the land (above ground) as the [119 {GA 9: 213}] paid menial of another destitute peasant'? And will he not prefer to put up with absolutely anything else rather than associate himself with those opinions (that hold in the cave) and be that kind of human being?"

"I think," he said, "that he would prefer to endure everything rather than be that kind (the cave-dwelling kind) of human being."

"And now," I responded, "consider this: If this person who had gotten out of the cave were to go back down again and sit in the same place as before, would he not find in that case, coming suddenly out of the sunlight, that his eyes were filled with darkness?" "Yes, very much so," he said.

"If he now once more had to engage himself with those who had remained shackled there in the business of asserting and maintaining opinions about the shadows - while his eyes are still weak and before they have readjusted, an adjustment that would require quite a bit of time - would he not then be exposed to ridicule down there? And would they not let him know that he had gone up but only in order to come back (into the cave) with his eyes ruined, and so too it certainly does not pay to go up? And if they can get hold of this person who takes it in hand to free them from their chains and to lead them up, and if they could kill him, will they not actually kill him?"

"They certainly will," he said.


Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks