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Rationalist epistemology plato



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  • 1. Rationalist Epistemology - Plato Unit 2, Part 1
  • 2. What is sufficient for knowledge?
    • According to Plato, belief is a necessary part of knowledge
        • But does true belief constitute knowledge?
        • No! Not according to Plato
    • Plato claims that in order for one to claim that one “knows” something, the following must be true:
        • The individual must believe X
        • X must be true
        • One has to be able to give the logos (give the theory, etc) for X
    • For Plato, knowledge is justified belief
  • 3. Simile of the Line
  • 4. Simile of the Line, cont’d…
    • What does Plato mean by images?
        • Images are dependent on the sensible objects of which they are images
            • Sensible in this case means experienced by the five senses
    • If the object of one’s state of awareness is an image, than Plato would say you are in a state of imagination
        • The person in the state confuses an image with the thing itself
        • This is the lowest point on the line, an experience that Plato would not define as knowledge
  • 5. Simile of the Line, cont’d…
    • What does Plato mean by sensible objects?
        • Sensible objects refer to things in the physical world (llamas, skateboards, and chicken patties)
            • These are more real than images (obviously, a picture of a chicken patty is less real than the actual chicken patty leaking grease onto your cafeteria plate), but Plato says that they are not “absolutely real” – meaning that they are impermanent (that chicken patty will rot away to nothing eventually), and they are dependent on other things – such as the sun, and the Forms (which we will talk about later)
    • If the object of one’s awareness is a sensible object, then one is in a state of belief…not knowledge
  • 6. Simile of the Line, cont’d…
    • What does Plato mean by concepts?
        • For Plato, a concept is similar to a theory, or a science
            • For example, gravity would be considered a concept, or Einstein’s theory of relativity
    • At this point, when one is focusing on concepts, we have now entered the realm of knowledge
        • But not the highest form of knowledge…
  • 7. Simile of the Line, cont’d…
    • We have arrived at…THE FORMS!
        • According to Plato, all the concepts we have mentioned (gravity, chicken patties, Einstein’s theory of relativity…) are simply copies of higher truths, which he called the Forms.
        • Forms are essentially archetypes of everything existing in the visible world
            • For example, that chicken patty on your plate is only a shadow of the “real thing” – there exists the Form of a chicken patty…the ultimate, perfect chicken patty
  • 8. Simile of the Line, cont’d…
    • The Forms exist outside time and space, not merely as ideas in one’s mind
        • However, they can only be grasped using the intellect, not the senses
        • They are uncreated, indestructible, unchanging, and eternal
    • However, they still depend upon something – what Plato calls, “the Good”, which serves as an absolute value and grounds all of reality
    • The Forms must be grasped “formally” – essentially, mathematically
        • Just as gravity might have a formula, so would Love, Beauty, etc.
  • 9. Innate Ideas
    • It seems that to know the forms, one must know everything! How could we ever know anything?
        • Plato contends that we each possess innate ideas , that are present in our souls at birth
            • The Forms, being the highest form of knowledge, must therefore be present in the souls of each person – otherwise, how could we ever know anything?
        • True knowledge then, is merely a recollection of the innate ideas of the Forms that we all already possess