I claim, then, that for the failing for which writers blame the masses, any body of men one cares to select may be blamed, and especially princes; for anyone who does not regulate his conduct by laws will make the same mistakes as the masses are guilty of (Machiavelli, The Discourses 252).
The allegory of the cave demonstrates the state in which we live, a state where our reality is enclosed as it would be by the cave and where we see only the shadows on the cave wall and not the ideal reality that produces those shadows:
It is clear that the author's intent is to rouse his compatriots to the kind of civic virtue that had once prevailed when the ancient Roman republic was establishing its dominion over the entire Italian peninsula (Rudowski 28-29).
The development of humanism in the Renaissance involved a shift in how people thought, and this occurred at the same time that the horizons of the West were expanding, be they geographical, mental, social, economic, or political:
Before the intellect can perceive the objects of the upper world, there is much to learn and understand, indicated by Socrates when he notes of the man who has climbed to the mouth of the cave, "He would need, then, to grow accustomed before he could see things in that upper world." The prisoner is then in a transition phase between appearance and reality. He stands in the realm of reality, but he can still see things only as they appear. The shadows he sees are more nearly reality than were the shadows on the wall of the cave, but they are still appearance and not reality. As the prisoner becomes more accustomed to the light and to the reflections of things, he will be better able to see the things themselves. These are the steps through which he must pass in becoming accustomed to the things illuminated and the source of illumination, and he is still in the realm of appearance as long as perception is the key.
Machiavelli's distinction between goodness and other virtues