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Theaitetos by Plato

Theaitetos (edition 1916)

by Plato

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682620,985 (3.79)4
Info:Leipzig, Philipp Reclam [1916]
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Theaetetus by Plato (Author)



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Extremely complex and difficult to follow, but still worth the read. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 17, 2018 |
(Original Review, 2002-06-25)

I've always wondered whether a thesis can only be supported by reason. Is that self-evident or can we find a reason for it?

Plato actually faces and tries to answer similar challenge in “Theaetetus” when he is discussing the nature of knowledge with Protagoras who is a relativist. Plato offers an argument trying to show that Protagoras claim that knowledge is perception must be wrong and he achieves this by making an argument. So we might reply to your question along similar lines: the sceptic about reason is claiming to have knowledge when he says that people never act for reasons but only because they are moved by rhetoric but knowledge to be knowledge and not mere true belief must involve logos or justification and so the sceptic's view is incoherent. He is arguing that knowledge does and does not involve responding to reasons but that is an incoherent view.

This is roughly how Plato tries to deal with the epistemic relativist and his argument is useful in dealing with modern day relativists like Richard Rorty or the social constructivists like Bruno Latour.
Let’s look at it from Plato's point of view. He will say that knowledge is a normative notion in the sense that it involves justification; knowledge is characterized by Plato as justified, true belief. But that says that reason enters into knowledge via justification and is a necessary condition of knowledge in a sense that if you only possess belief that is true (take a guess and think that I’m are writing on a HP laptop and that happens to be the case; do I know that I’m writing this on a HP laptop ? No, you don’t, even though my belief is true) you don’t have knowledge.

So the claim is pretty strong: it is not just that reason can support knowledge on this Platonic view but rather that it logically has to; reason and knowledge are conceptually tied together Plato wants to argue. This is not just an empirical claim but a conceptual one.

What the sceptic and the post modernists like Rorty are challenging is what might be called the classical picture of knowledge which can be traced to Plato:

(i) The world which we seek to understand and know about is what it is largely independently of us and our beliefs about it;

(ii) Facts of the Form -- information E justifies belief B -- are society-independent facts ,and

(iii) Under the appropriate circumstances, our exposure to the evidence alone is capable of explaining why we believe what we believe.

This is Plato's view and is also embraced by Anglo American philosophy and science. The sophists like Protagoras (and in ethical sphere it's Callicles and Thrasymachus) and post modernists like Heidegger, Rorty, Foucault, Latour and so on and of course people in social sciences and humanities influenced by pomo reject this picture by rejecting either one or all components of the classical picture.

Forms are universals and not directly perceived when I see turds and flies although I can intuit these forms. They constitute metaphysical background of ordinary things and are ontologically necessary to explain first of all why ordinary things like turds are in fact turds and secondly how we can come to know ordinary things. So, forms for Plato are ontologically fundamental and prior to what is given in experience and so on this view it is not something we create. Forms are independent of our perceiving them and can be in intuited and so are turds and flies and so, Plato is a realist.

No , the cave works like this : just as in the cave when I look at the dog's shadow on the wall which is a reflection of the dog but dont actually see the real dog so in the waking experience of the world I see things that are contingent, impermanent and transient . When I see a dog I see the reflection of the dog but not the Form of the universal dog. Roughly, Plato wants to say this because he thinks that ordinary scientific and everyday knowledge is too insecure and too revisable to be certain and to the extent to which Plato wants. His model of knowledge is logic and maths and he has doubts about empirical knowledge ; we have two categories ar two classes of knowledge with maths being the better one . This is not that controversial because Plato is distinguishing analytic a priori knowledge from empirical knowledge , the distinction we continue to make . What is unusual is his denigration of the empirical. ( )
  antao | Nov 24, 2018 |
A very fine translation that makes the arguments as clear as I think they can be and brings out the characters of the participants. It's the same Levett / Burnyeat text that you get in Cooper's Complete Works, but this edition has a thoughtful and thorough introduction and sensible notes. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 1, 2015 |
Challenging ( )
  waelrammo | Sep 14, 2014 |
philosophy, epistemology
  chsteiger | Feb 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
PlatoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumbergs, IlmārsIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Copi, Irving M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cornford, Francis MacDonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jowett, BenjaminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDowell, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molegraaf, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Narkēvičs, EdgarsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neiders, IvarsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sachs, JoeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schleiermacher, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waterfield, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140444505, Paperback)

Set immediately prior to the trial and execution of Socrates in 399 BC, Theaetetus shows the great philosopher considering the nature of knowledge itself, in a debate with the geometrician Theodorus and his young follower Theaetetus. Their dialogue covers many questions, such as: is knowledge purely subjective, composed of the ever-changing flow of impressions we receive from the outside world? Is it better thought of as true belief'? Or is it, as many modern philosophers argue, justified true belief', in which the belief is supported by argument or evidence? With skill and eloquence, Socrates guides the debate, drawing out the implications of these theories and subjecting them to merciless and mesmerising criticism. One of the founding works of epistemology, this profound discussion of the problem of knowledge continues to intrigue and inspire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:41 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Some dialogues of Plato are of so various a character that their relation to the other dialogues cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. The Theaetetus, like the Parmenides, has points of similarity both with his earlier and his later writings. The perfection of style, the humour, the dramatic interest, the complexity of structure, the fertility of illustration, the shifting of the points of view, are characteristic of his best period of authorship. The vain search, the negative conclusion, the figure of the midwives, the constant profession of ignorance on the part of Socrates, also bear the stamp of the early dialogues, in which the original Socrates is not yet Platonized.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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