For those of you who haven't read the Republic or would appreciate a refresher on the allegory of the cave: In Socrates' allegory of the cave, he approaches the topic of how humans perceive and understand the world around them. He states that all people start out shackled to the the ground floor of a cave. The only light source comes from outside of the cave. As they cannot see outside, the only things that they can see are puppets made by other people inside of the cave, and they come to see the puppets as real things rather than the things that truly exist outside of the cave. Socrates then states that only a philosopher king will be able to use logic to see that the images are not real and will be able to lead himself out of the cave through philosophy. After leaving the cave and seeing the true world, he has the obligation to go back into the cave to alert other people that they are merely seeing images created by other people, hopefully allowing leading them on a path to use philosophy to leave the cave themselves. Unfortunately, this person will likely be ignored or even killed. One interpretation (Allan Bloom) states that the largest obstacle holding back the shackled prisoners from trying to leave the cave is that people feel a need to find significance in themselves. The prisoners have only seen the puppet images, and through them have created significance in their own lives. In order to escape the cave, one must be willing to accept if necessary that their lives up to any point lacked significance; in other words, people must not value empirically false ideas that provide a perception of significance over true ideas that may not provide such significance. This interpretation also states that another obstacle is that a person leaving the cave must be willing to "not look directly at the sun" (i.e. not know everything unquestioningly). Adding my own interpretation, I believe these two obstacles are interconnected. One reason that a person may not find significance by turning away from their falsely accepted ideas is because finding the truth is not something the person can actually reach in their lifetime. In this way, a person may believe that he would find significance in the truth but still choose not to chase it. But if a person believed this, what's holding him back from finding significance in helping the the whole of humankind get closer to the truth? Why has that choice so far proven to be unpersuasive to people? Is the bigger problem for humanity that we are ignorant, or that we are willfully ignorant? Will we ever be willing to unshackle ourselves?