Study Questions for Plato’s
. How does the philosopher differ from the "lovers of sights and sounds"? What is the difference between
knowledge and opinion? (475c-480a)
What makes philosophers different from lovers of sights and sounds is that they apprehend these Forms.
The lovers of sights and sounds claim to know all about beautiful things but cannot claim to have any
knowledge of the Form of the Beautiful—nor do they even recognize that there is such a thing. Because the
lovers of sights and sounds do not deal with Forms, Socrates claims, but only with sensible particulars—
that is, the particular things we sense around us—they ca n have opinions but never knowledge. Only
philosophers can have knowledge, the objects of which are the Forms.
. What is the relation between the Form of the Good, and the virtuous life? (504e-509b)
People think they know good, but they don’t know the Good.
It is in understanding the Form of the Good, in fact, that someone gains the highest level knowledge and
thus becomes fit to be a philosopher king.
Socrates explains that the Form of the Good is not what is commonly held to be good. Some think that the
highest good is pleasure, while the more sophisticated think that it is knowledge. In fact, it is neither of
these, but Socrates cannot really say directly what it is. The best he can do is give an analogy—to say
“what is the offspring of the good and most like it.” This analogy is the first in a string of three famous and
densely interrelated metaphors that will stretch into the next book—the sun, the line, and the cave. In the
course of developing these three metaphors, Socrates explains who the philosopher is, while working out
his metaphysics and epistemology.
Knowledge= justified and true belief
. Explain Plato’s analogy of the divided line. (509d-511e)
The Form of the Good is responsible for all knowledge, truth, and for the knowing mind. It is the cause of
the existence of the Forms in the intelligible realm, and the source for all that is good and beautiful in the
visible realm. It is not surprising, then, that it is the ultimate aim of knowledge.
Yet not until we hear the next analogy do we understand just how important this Form of the Good is to
knowledge. The analogy of the line is meant to illustrate the ways of accessing the world, the four grades of
knowledge and opinion available to us. Imagine, says Socrates, a line broken into four segments. The