Knowledge And Belief Notes
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Knowledge and Belief
Plato's Republic Knowledge and Belief Lovers of Sights and Sounds are Experts in Their Fields, Just as Philosophers are the Experts in Theirs INTRODUCTION Republic 473-80 Aim : To show that it is those who seek and hold knowledge that should be rulers in society. In order to prove this, Socrates must find a reply to Glaucon's question about the difference between the knowledge a philosopher holds and the equivalent knowledge held by a lover of spectacles and sounds. He achieves this in Book 5 by describing the difference between knowledge and opinion in an attempt to show that the lovers of sights / sounds can only hold opinion not knowledge. He goes about accomplishing this by looking chiefly at the different objects of knowledge and opinion. Opinion : The many beautiful things. Object of Knowledge : The beautiful itself / form of the good (476b). LAY O U T O F P R O B L E M From 476b-c we come to understand by contrast to the many beautiful things, that 'the beautiful itself' is something transcendent and independent of material objects. It is clear straight away, then, that the beautiful itself cannot be grasped merely by sight or hearing as some substantiated object may be.
- It is much more abstract : a 'guarantor of ethical objectivity' (Brown). Plato links our appreciation of this object with the object of opinion and thus shows the difference between the two. Republic 476e-477b : S: Tell me this: Does one who knows know something, or nothing? Answer me on his behalf. G: I answer that one who knows knows something. S: Does he knows what is, or what is not?
G: What is. For how could something that is not be known?
S: Then we are sure of the following, however we may look at it, that what fully is is fully knowable and what is not in any way is totally unknowable. G: Absolutely.S: Fine. Now if there were something such that it both is and is not, would it not lie between that which purely is and that which in no way is?
G: Yes. S: Then knowledge is matched with what is, ignorance necessarily with what is not, and we need to search for something between knowledge and ignorance to be matched with this thing which is in between, if indeed there is such a thing. ESTI
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Knowledge and Belief We are presented with complete uses of esti in this passage - and it is up to us whether we translate theses uses in the existential way (x exists) or the veridical way (x is true). It is tempting at first to take the existential interpretation as at first making most sense - particularly when Glaucon asks how something that is not can be known.
- It seems here that Glaucon has assumed Socrates is using the existential form. The veridical use is less obvious initially, but is more consistent with 473-80 as a whole and gets round the difficulty that comes in interpretation later uses of esti. The most problematic case comes in 478d where Plato claims that the object of opinion is found in something that is and is not.
- Taken existentially, this claim is difficulty as something cannot exist and not exits at the same time.
- Taken veridically we can understand that the object of opinion may at one contain qualities that are true and untrue at the same time.
- In some way, Plato must be following Parmenides here, who also muddles the use of esti in the fragments of his cosmological poem.
- The pre-Socratic philosopher instils the notion that what is is something higher and transcendental. In the objects of sights and opinions there is a degree of subjectivity that can never make an observation undeniably veridical. 1) Each of the many Fs is and is not F. 1) This is the way described in 479b 2) Each of the many Fs is and is not. 1) This is the way described in 478d 3) The Form F is fully and purely F 4) The Form F fully and purely is. (3 & 4 are analogues describing the objects of knowledge). What we must accept here, regardless of which use we argue for, is that the use of to be in 479 (1) is incomplete. FINE Having established that the objects of opinions are true and untrue in 478d, Socrates now introduces an F-ness to the object to get closer to defining it. Fine endorses a view that this predicative use is used in conjunction with a veridical one, the later of which Fine supports as a consistent reading of esti throughout. Fine incorporates opinions into 2, to show the link between the different uses of esti in 1 & 2. She writes, 'Although opinion can in general be completeness with is-P, the presents context suggests a veridical use' - When the sightlovers and considering justice, they develop beliefs about it that are true and false while at the same time justice is the predicate of it is and it is not.
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Knowledge and Belief ALT E R NAT I V E There have been other attempts to connect 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 in a coherent way. The most popular view is that there is no inference from 1 to 2, but instead 2 simply relates 1 in an elliptical way. Vlastos argues that in 2 and 4 the is means is really real. Thus , with 2, he is saying that the object of opinion is real in that it exists but is also not really real in the sense that it is genuine.
- We can make an analogy with flowers - to say that they are not real does not imply that they do not exist but instead that they are not genuine flowers. Similarly, with 4, then, Plato is saying that the Froms are indisputably really real. The objection here is part of a wider debate about whether we can transpose English idiots of to be onto Greek.
- 'These flowers are not real' works in English but the existential use in Greek may be more fixed than this - it either exists or it does not. THE GOOD In 506-18, Socrates describes further the difference between true wisdom and sightlovers. He does this by trying to give a sense of what the Form of the Good is exactly, and makes use of an analogy and metaphor - culminating in the cave-scene. 508 : The symbol of the sun, and for the next couple of chapters Socrates describes to us its benefit to sights, which we in turn can take as referring to the benefit the Form of the Good has on knowledge.
- The sun allows one's eyes to see things - the From of the Good is what allows us the capacity for knowledge.
Lesley Brown : The goal of Republic v475-80 is to show that knowledge differs from opinion - and that it is therefore those who have knowledge - philosophers, who should rule. In doing this he argues not only that knowledge and opinion differ, but also that their objects differ - the object of knowledge is that which is, while the object of opinion is that which is and is not - also described as between that which purely is and that which in no way is. Object of knowledge : Forms.
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