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Assessment of Plato's two arguments about knowledge in the Meno and the Phaedo - Term Paper Example

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Assessment of Plato's two arguments about knowledge in the Meno and the Phaedo

In both Meno and Phaedo, knowledge and learning are viewed as a recollection of what someone already knows. However, in Meno, Plato writes that knowledge is concerned with the recollection of necessary truths. In Phaedo, on the other hand, knowledge, according to Plato, is concerned with the acquisition of concepts, which are not necessarily truths (102b-c). In essence, Phaedo tries to imply that a person can gain knowledge simply by learning new concepts based on their individual opinions. The subject of debate in this essay is whether either form of knowledge can be independent of the other. Can a person claim to have knowledge about a subject by simply recalling some prior truths, or can a person learn new concepts based on a recollection of prior opinions? The idea of recollection or anamnesis, according to Plato, holds that if at all a person remembers something, they must have had prior knowledge of the subject (73c). Plato, in Phaedo writes that the fact that a person can hear or see something and recognize it, and even think of something alike, is all based on anamnesis (74c). In Phaedo, Plato gives an example of knowledge through recognition by stating that a person may see a lyre that reminds them of their lover (73c-e). In this context, the person’s recognition of a lyre is independent of them being reminded about their lover. However, there is a difference between seeing just any lyre and being reminded of one’s lover, and seeing a lyre belonging to one’s lover and being reminded of them. The alter explanation deals with a truth about the lover’s lyre, while the former introduces a new concept, with an opinion about any lyre. In Phaedo, Plato also explains what recollection is all about suing the example of the equal itself (74c-d). Here, the argument is that one person may see two stones or sticks as equal, while another sees them as unequal. The equality of these objects may vary according to one’s opinion, but the equal itself is always equal, with no variations of equality. Fundamentally, this is to say that the two people both have prior truthful knowledge of what the equal itself is; what may differ, however, are their opinions concerning the equality of the objects. The two cases above require some degree of recollection, although for the former, it is a recollection of a truth about the equal itself, while the latter deals with the recollection of a personal opinion about a subject. The knowledge about the truth of the equal itself that can never be unequal is the precondition for the opinion as to whether the objects in question are equal or unequal. From this analysis, it is safe to infer that knowledge acquisition is a progression from prior truth to opinions formed in reference to the said truth. The seeing of one thing and being reminded of another, whether like or unlike, is what Plato refers to as anamnesis. However, a person can see something and instead of being reminded of another, they can create their own idea of something else that could be dissimilar from what they saw. This creation of an idea by a person is a new concept that does not necessarily come from a pre-existing truth. This argument, therefore, puts into doubt the idea that the pre-condition to being reminded is to have cognition of something. This is a case of having knowledge through recollection of things that are ...Show more
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Name Instructor Course no. Date Deliberating on knowledge according to Plato’s Phaedo and Meno, respectively, the term “knowledge” lacks the one definition that encompasses in totality what knowledge is and what it entails. Philosophers have, for a long time, been at task to find the one definition that would cover knowledge completely, but that definition is still elusive…
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