Forms As Objects Of Knowledge

Forms As Objects Of Knowledge - Forms As Objects Of...

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Forms As Objects Of Knowledge: Rep . 476-480 1. Overview a. Plato begins with two simple premises: Knowledge is of what is. Knowledge is infallible. b. He then moves on to conclusions about what is, or being. c. Thus Plato bases metaphysical (ontological) conclusions on epistemological premises. Epistemological Side Ontological Side Knowledge Being (= what is) Infallibility ? d. Plato is looking for the feature of what is that accounts for the fact that knowledge can’t be mistaken. The infallibility of knowledge is a feature (on the epistemological side) that must be matched (accounted for?) by some feature on the metaphysical side. e. Plato tries to find this feature by considering a state of mind which is like knowledge but is not infallible: belief, or opinion ( doxa ). f. What accounts for the errors that belief (opinion) is prone to? What accounts for mistakes in judgment? Plato’s answer: The cognitive unreliability of the objects of belief. That is, our judgments are unreliable because and in so far as the things our judgments are about let us down. In what ways do they let us down? They change. They can cease (or fail) to exist. They can be false. All of these possibilities may come into play (each involves a different sense of “is” - a different sense in which the objects of belief or opinion can fail to “be.” g. This distinction between knowledge and belief is crucial for Plato - without it, he would not have his main support for the theory of Forms. That he continues to have this concern (after the Republic ) is made clear in this passage in the Timaeus (51d): If understanding and true opinion are distinct, then these “by themselves” things definitely exist - these Forms, the objects not of our sense perception but of our understanding only. But if - as some people think - true opinion does not differ in any way from understanding, then all the things we perceive through our bodily senses must be assumed to be the most stable things there are. But we do have to speak of understanding and true opinion as distinct, of course, because we can come to have one without the other, and the one is not like the other . . . Since these things are so we must agree that (i) that which keeps its own form unchangingly, which has not been brought into being and is not destroyed, which neither receives into itself anything else from anywhere else, nor itself enters into anything else anywhere, is one thing. It is invisible - it cannot be perceived by the senses at all, and it is the role of understanding to study it. (ii) The second thing is
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that which shares the other’s name and resembles it. This thing can be perceived by the senses, and it has been begotten. It is constantly borne along, now coming into being in a certain place and perishing out of it. It is apprehended by opinion, which involves sense perception. . . . 2.
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This note was uploaded on 11/26/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 101 taught by Professor Buechner during the Fall '06 term at Rutgers.

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Forms As Objects Of Knowledge - Forms As Objects Of...

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