Am I missing something or is Baudrillard's "Simulacra and Simulation" just a wordy "Allegory of the Cave"?

To expand, reality is "crowdsourced", patterns occur, and we can never know the ultimate source/beginning/"butterfly wing" of a pattern?

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    I do not think so... Baudrillard's work is more about society. Obviously, symbols and signs are the core of human experience and communication, and so also society. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 8:56
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    No. Simulacra never had or no longer have an original, the "real" prototype, whereas Plato's shadows on the wall are imitations of real forms. If anything, it is the postmodernistic inversion of Plato's allegory. Where shadows point a way out to the true reality and fulfillment, simulacra trap within the endless self reproducing virtual that implodes all meaning and connection to reality.
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 11:50
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    According to Baudrillard reality could be said to be already outsourced to the crowd (thus your crowdsourced makes sense), and since everyone in the crowd may perceive the same reality in their idiosyncratic ways differently so how it's possible many exact sharable "patterns occur"? (see a recent post discussing this question) Since we cannot know the ultimate (real) source of a pattern, how can you be absolutely sure the (postmodern) simulation of the simulacra is not the (ancient) shadow in Plato's Cave?... Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 1:37
  • Well, it's exactly the same! Awesome. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


For Plato there is a real and eternal world of truth outside the cave that we can always choose to step out and examine. His point is not meant to be historically specific, but is rather about the fundamental epistemology of the human condition in any time and place.

For Baudrillard the proliferation of simulacra through technology presents a new and different problem, which he famously called “the death of the real.” I'm not sure if Baudrillard ever addressed Plato's cave directly, but if he did I would expect him to emphasize how our situation today is made profoundly differennt by modern media.


I did not read it very thoroughly, but my takeaway from it was, that it's not about the "source". It's kind of more about the motivation for doing things and how you place yourself in the world.

Think about the following very relatable modern example:

Let's say there's a guy who invents a musical instrument (in modern terms, let's say a synthesizer). People at that time consider it something unprecedented, something new, something state of the art. Some people call it "doing art". The guy goes around, plays his instrument and so on.

Nowadays, millions of people BUY technically almost the same synthesizer, push buttons, turn knobs and in modern society that's considered "doing art". But that's not the same thing as what that first guy was doing. To do the same thing for him would be just to buy the popular instrument at that time (guitar?) and play it just like millions other people.

So, it's kind of about how "shallow" your view on things and society is. How much you are trying to look through facade and not conform to society.

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Meanach
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:45
  • Well, I'm not looking for an "accepted answer" internet points. I just wrote a few thoughts on the subject. You are welcome to engage in a conversation if you want to...
    – Denis
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 12:37

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