Ancient Philosophy

Ancient Philosophy

AncientPhilosophy

AncientPhilosophy

Theconcept of knowledge has attracted immense attention particularlyfrom philosophers and scholars from varied other disciplines.Knowledge has often been defined as the awareness and comprehensionof certain elements of reality or rather the lucid and clearinformation that is obtained via the application of reason toreality. The conventional approach is that knowledge is based onthree sufficient and necessary conditions so as to define it as ajustified true belief. These include truth, belief and justification.In the case of truth, it should be noted that false propositionswould never be known, in which case something would only count asknowledge when it is actually true (Phaedrus, 221a-b). Similarly, anindividual would not know something if he or she does not believe inthe statement of the same. The justification underlines the notionthat such beliefs would have to be based on a particular knownphenomenon rather than simply luck.

Tobegin with, knowledge according to Plato is defined in terms ofontological categories. For him genuine knowledge can be achieved bysearching within one self. However, only philosophers are able toachieve knowledge this way, changing themselves into position of godas far as it likely for men. Plato evidently describes an ideal inthe dialogues. But he also addresses the common man’s ability forgaining knowledge despite his scarce condition in contrast to thePlatonic ideal. In the legendary simile of the cave in the Republic,he gives quite a practical view of ordinary man as being emprisonedin a world of becoming. In the simile the prisoner takes pictures onthe wall for certainty. In order to be at liberty from this kind ofillusion, he has to be turned around in the direction of truth.However, the common men or the prisoners are not capable to turnaround themselves without help from outside. They need a teacher whowill be able toask them questions and gets them into conceptualdifficulties. According to Plato, the common manis likely to havedesires, fears and emotions that make him deaf to lucid persuasionand that might overwhelm his rational thinking and cause him to actagainst his will (Republic, 519a-b). Therefore, the teacher must try to create the kind of disposition in his partner that prepares him to accept the results of rational arguments,makes him realize what is true and what is false, and helps him to transform this knowledge into moral behavior(Republic, 401d-402a.)

Secondly,Plato believes that one can attain real knowledge only if one focuseson the eternal soul. But as the Athenian alien in the Laws shows,ethical practice too is of vital importance for gaining knowledge.Harmonizing the parts of the soul and controlling emotions, fear anddesires, which are placed in the mortal part of the soul, requireself-control (Republic, 509c). For the common man, the remedy of themortal self and the appropriate control of affections are necessaryfor developing the right behavior that provide the foundation forvirtue and real knowledge (Laws, 734e-735a).

Inconclusion, apart from the innate knowledge, there are other ways ofacquiring knowledge including thought process, observation, as wellas a combination of thinking and observing. In the case ofobservational knowledge, one would acquire the knowledge of aparticular object through observing particular phenomenon. Of course,the question would be the amount of observation that is necessary forobservational knowledge or rather the standard that has to be met forobservational evidence to be sufficient to give knowledge.

Inthe case of knowledge through thinking, philosophers explore thepossibility that one would acquire knowledge through thinking orreflection and not observation. This underlines the question onwhether it is possible to have a priori knowledge. Priori knowledgewould be substantive and possible in instances where the knowledgebeing acquired is trivial or simple. However, the acknowledgement ofthe limits pertaining to both observational and reasoned knowledgecreates the need to combine the two so as to eliminate theirrestrictions or defeat a reasonable or sufficient number of the same.

Asnoted, it is imperative that common men undergo a therapy of theirmortal selves and have appropriate regulations of their affections soas to develop the appropriate habits that offer the basis for realknowledge and virtue. However, the human passion therapy thatgenerates a certain modification of emotions in human beings makingthem better learners and more amenable to advice is fundamental.Without the groundwork, common people would not act in line with theinsights and judgments that emanate from conversation. Resisting theappropriate opinion is seen as a deficiency of knowledge (Phaedo,86a). The phenomenon that affections, emotions and desires such asfear could stand in the way of an individual accepting the product ofrational argument is theoretically underpinned in the partitioning ofthe soul. The partitioning provides an explanation on why emotionscan sometimes overcome reason against an individual’s will. Without this foundation, this praeparatio philosophica, common man will notsucceed to act in accordance with the insight and judgments that emerge from conversation. To oppose right opinion is regarded aslack of knowledge.

References

Cooper,J.M (1997). Plato: Complete Works: New York: Hackett Publishing