The Vermont Connection


The “Allegory of the Cave,” Book VII of Plato’s Republic, has been a staple in Western philosophical and political thought for millennia. Following a brief summary of Plato’s story told by Socrates, this article makes a case for using the allegory as a framework for discussing the systems of oppression created by colonialism and hegemonic control. The second part of this article discusses the ways in which Plato’s vision has been used in educational philosophy and psychology to symbolize the gradual processes of education as a means of liberation. This discussion takes the form of an analysis of Platonic developmental processes of cognition and reasoning in comparison to self-authorship and self-evolution theories of Baxter Magolda (2001, as cited in Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2010), and Egan (1983). Additionally, this article offers a connection between Platonic philosophy and Heidegger’s theories of ontological education to inform student affairs practice. Finally, Plato’s pedagogy and the work of Paulo Freire (1998) present critical education as a method of liberation.