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Distinguish Knowledge from Opinion - Essay Example

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Distinguishing Knowledge from Opinion Name In the Meno, Plato uses the elenchus as his method of finding true knowledge. The elenchus is similar to a cross-examination, where one asks the other questions that would provoke the latter to remember the truth…
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Distinguish Knowledge from Opinion

In Plato’s Meno, Socrates and Meno argue about what virtue is and whether it can be taught. What ensues is an exchange of ideas which lead Socrates to further prove his point – that virtue cannot be taught and is rather simply recalled. For Socrates, “the soul is immortal” and therefore “there is nothing which it has not learned.2 The soul therefore only has to draw out from its reservoir of knowledge all the truths that can be known. In order to prove this point, Socrates calls on a young servant boy of Meno’s and begins using the elenchus on him, hoping to draw out the truth from him without teaching him anything. Socrates begins his demonstration of the elenchus by drawing a 2 ft. x 2 ft. square on the ground. This square has an area of 4 square feet and Socrates then asks the boy how to come up with a square double this area, which is 8 square feet. Through a series of questions and answers using a trial-and-error method, Socrates and the __________________________ 1 Gladwell, p. 197. 2 Baggini & Fosl, p. 13. boy finally come to a conclusion that double the area of the given square is the square of its diagonal. Many times during the interrogation, Socrates points out to Meno that he is not teaching the boy and rather makes him remember the truth. ...
For the French philosopher, the means of finding true knowledge is through skepticism, or the method of casting doubt on all arguments, principles and beliefs until any of these could be proven true. Descartes’ principle of “methodological doubt” begins when he notices that his senses sometimes deceive him.4 He then proceeds to wonder what is real and what is not. He thinks that everything that he can perceive through the senses may merely be opinion and not the truth for he can doubt the existence of these things. Moreover, the fact that he may be deceived by the senses also somehow makes him cast doubt on the goodness of God, for he wonders why a good God would allow him to be deceived. As this deceptive quality does not fit Descartes’ notion of a good God, he replaces God with an “evil genius” that possesses the power to deceive him completely.5 With such a powerful evil force, Descartes then begins to doubt everything else, even the verity of mathematics and geometry, and he asks himself, “What then will be true? __________________________ 3 Baggini & Fosl, p. 16. 4 Ibid., p. 50. 5 Ibid., p. 52. Perhaps just the single fact that nothing is certain.”6 Descartes, however, finally comes up with the conclusion that, despite the fact that the existence of everything can be doubted, he exists: “…there is no doubt that I exist, if [the evil genius] is deceiving me.”7 Descartes then takes it from here and he supposes that the fact that he is being deceived rests upon the fact that it is because he thinks so. With the premise that he as a thinking being now exists, Descartes is able to conclude that he as a thinking being can also doubt, understand, affirm, imagine, sense and perform many other functions related to thinking. Moreover, using ... Read More
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