The Cave as a Metaphor from the Female and Male Perspective
Plato’s cave, involving the dialogue between his mentor Socrates and Glaucon, Plato’s brother, is not the only image of a cave we have inherited from ancient times. A much older version exists in which Paleolithic women were able to transpose their understanding of reality as having a physical and nonphysical (immaterial) spiritual component through the transference figurately of common attributes, such as a cave, the V sign, or the goose, which all represent the womb from which all creation arises. Caves being dark cavities have a long history of standing for the uterus or womb, where the cave mouth epitomizes the vulva. I suggest that this understanding, based on ‘woman’s consciousness’ involving the observance of correspondence between events in their bodies and occurrences of a cosmic nature, enabled some of them to ground their insights in representative images as a didactic tool to explain reality. The ineffable, for them, was not an abstract ground of being but an entity that could create and give birth to a natural world that was dualistic or polar but was also manifesting through them and all creation as it vibrates through us and is what animates every cell in our body. The relationship between the enigma and Mother seems to be at the heart of their spirituality. This matri-focused perspective did not sit well with the new patriarchal structure of the ancient Greeks and needed replacement to consolidate their power and, in addition, the way they understood the universe. This shift involved a new epistemological way of comprehending reality, which is understandable as there is no apparent link between the male body and cosmic events. In Plato’s metaphysics, the prior, illustrious vision of the cave becomes linked to an illusionary way of seeing reality. This depreciation also occurs with other essential elements connected with the female perspective, such as the moon and darkness. A possible new way forward would be recognizing, understanding, and honouring the different epistemological ways the two sexes have developed to comprehend reality and their diverse but overlapping metaphysical positions.