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Paulo Freire and Plato

            Paulo Freire wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed more than 2,500 years after Plato wrote Parable of the Cave, but the two have very similar messages. While reading Freire's writing, it is almost natural to picture the "cave" scenario that Plato set up. Freire discusses a debate over the results of a man or woman learning the contradictions of life might lead them to a "total collapse of their world". He also believes that the oppressed are being dehumanized, and the ones being oppressed are the ones who can best understand the need for liberation. However, the liberation itself brings about a fear of freedom, which is just another oppressor.
             The fellow in Plato's cave can be considered dehumanized. He has been in a cave his whole life, shackled so that he may not move his legs or head, and believes that shadows are realities. This is no way for a human to live. When he begins his ascent towards the light he is afraid, though he might not be consciously aware of it, he is afraid of the freedom he is heading towards. When he does reach the outside of the cave and experience the sun his life collapses. His reality is no longer real. He must accept that for most of his life he has been neglected of the things that make people human. He had been immersed in a life of shadows and illusions. Once he knows the reality of the world of light, he is aware that he has been oppressed, and he understands the need for the liberation he just went through. He wants to share it with the rest of his cave mates. When he returns to the cave to share the news he finds that the others reject his claims. They are too afraid of the freedom he has found. They would rather kill him than face the possibility that their humanity is being manipulated. Like Freire said, they were too immersed in the reality of their oppression to perceive themselves as oppressed.
             The two readings are very connected. While studying Freire, I constantly pictured the cave and the men in it.

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