What is the figurative meaning of the quote ' “No matter how hard you fight the darkness, every light casts a shadow, and the closer you get to the light, the darker that shadow becomes.” ― Plato '? Specially the highlighted part.

  • He's saying that life is a mix of good and bad that you cannot eliminate. Take it all in. Commented Mar 1 at 15:26
  • In case the literal meaning is unclear: picture a dark room. Put a single light bulb in it, about a meter from one wall. Hold up your hand between the light and the wall that is farthest from it: you will cast a fuzzy shadow. Put your hand between the light and the nearer wall and you will cast a darker shadow. Commented Mar 1 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


Light and darkness are commonly used as metaphors for good and evil respectively.

Literal light 'fights' the dark in that a light removes darkness - you turn a light on, the darkness goes away. And in almost all analogies about good versus evil, good wins out.

This quote puts a negative spin on it by making the point that lights create shadows, which are in a sense a form of darkness themselves. Of course, darkness is always an absence of light. Light itself does not really create a shadow, but casting a light into a dark room usually causes shadows to be cast from any object that directly blocks the light.

I suppose there are different ways it could be interpreted, but the generally understood interpretation is that, if you take up a fight against something evil, just as light creates a little darkness, you in turn become a little evil yourself. This is pretty consistent with quite a lot of philosophies such as Yin and yang in Chinese philosophy which portrays good and evil as complimentary forces with a little of each in the other.

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    @ZamanNipu Note, this is the easiest way I or most modern hearers would understand it. But I haven't actually read (much) Plato and can't vouch for whether this is the original meaning he intended. I do know that he used light and shadows as metaphors for musing on the nature of reality and perception, see "Plato's Cave". It's possible that the "light/darkness" duality for him was something other than good/evil, like knowledge/ignorance or certainty/uncertainty. Commented Mar 1 at 18:03

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