Knowledge Essay, Research Paper
Intro to Phil
Knowledge as Justified True Belief
Reprinted from The Collected Dialogues of Plato (1961) edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Plato (ca. 428 to 348 B.C.) a student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle and a giant of Western philosophy, best know for his classical theory of ideal forms.
Plato writes of a philosopher, Socrates, who appears to question everything down to its most simple form. This particular dialogue deals with knowledge and it’s qualifications. Throughout this Dialogue Socrates is the teacher and Theaetetus the student. Socrates questions Theaetetus’ views on the true belief of knowledge. Theaetetus first states that knowledge is true belief. Socrates asserts that ” you will find a whole profession that truth is not knowledge”. He explains that lawyers use their skills to make people believe whatever they want them to believe. Theaetetus then comments that true belief with the addition of an account was knowledge. But Socrates again, questions that idea and argues that in order for this to be true it must be changed around. He first defines the word “account” and breaks the definition up into three parts. The first part of the word account, according to Socrates, is “giving overt expression to one’s thought by means of vocal sound with names and verbs.” The second part of the meaning is “being able to name some mark by which the thing one is asked about differs from everything else.” Combining the first two definitions of account Socrates defines the third part as, “putting your differentness into words” because “the correct notion of anything must itself include the differentness of that thing.” He then says that an account added to true belief yields knowledge in its most perfect form. But he finally comes to a definition of knowledge that both, he and Theaetetus are satisfied with: “‘Correct belief together with knowledge of a differentness,’ for, according to it, ‘adding an account’ will come to that.”
Throughout the time I was reading this dialogue I found many of Socrates thoughts to be intriguing. His first point, true belief is not knowledge, was explained clearly by his example. I agree that by convincing or making someone believe something to be ‘true’, doesn’t necessarily classify as truth or knowledge.
I found Socrates breakdown of the word account to be very insightful. I strongly believe in his three parts of the word account and their relationship to each other and Socrates final definition of knowledge. Although I get frustrated Socrates’ method of questioning everything into simple form; I understand that you can’t have knowledge of something you can’t explain.