Master's specialisation in Metaphysics and Epistemology (Research) - Information for PhD candidates
This is not to say that metaphysical or epistemological issues were of no .. In contrast to the characterizing relation of Partaking, the relation of Being Plato provides little guidance in this argument or elsewhere as to why. Also, ontology is a branch of metaphysics and metaphysics has sometimes been viewed with suspicion (by the logical positivists for instance, who thought all. The Difference Between Real and True in Philosophy. George Berkeley on . Epistemology, put simply, is the study of knowledge. In particular.
Menger distinguished between the empirical-realistic orientation to theory and the exact orientation to theory. Whereas the realistic-empirical branch of economics studies the regularities in the succession and coexistence of real phenomena, the exact orientation studies the laws governing ideal economic phenomena.
He explains that realistic-empirical theory is concerned with regularities in the coexistence and succession of phenomena discovered by observing actual types and typical relationships of phenomena. Realistic-empirical theory is subject to exceptions and to change over time. Theoretical economics in its realistic orientation derives empirical laws that are valid only for the spatial and temporal relationships from which they were observed.
Empirical laws can only be alleged to be true within a particular spatiotemporal domain. The realistic orientation can only lead to real types and to the particular. The study of individual or concrete phenomena in time and space is the realm of the historical sciences.
According to Menger, it is the aim of the practical or historical sciences to discover the principles, policies, and procedures that are needed in order to shape the phenomena according to predetermined goals. Menger's view implies that economic reality manifests certain simple and intelligible structures.
Economic reality is constituted in intelligible ways out of structures depending upon human thought and action. The individual and his behavior are the most basic elements by means of which Menger explains economic phenomena and derives universal laws.
Mengerian economics is built on the basis of the idea that there are, in the realm of economic phenomena, indispensable structures to every economic action that are manifested in every economy. Economic universals involve economizing action on the part of individuals. These universals of economic reality are discovered through theoretical efforts and are not arbitrary creations of the economist.
Menger's understanding of economic theory is essentialist and grounded in Aristotelian metaphysics. His causal-realistic economic method is a search for laws about actual, observable events. It follows that Menger's economics is actually a theory of reality. Menger is concerned with essences and laws manifested in this world. For Menger, as well as Aristotle, what is general does not exist in isolation from what is particular.
Menger's theoretical economics studies the universal aspects of particular phenomena. These economic universals are said to exist only as instantiated in specific economic actions and institutions. For Menger, the goal of theoretical research is to discover the simplest elements of all things real which must be apprehended as strictly typical merely because they are the simplest.
Of course, it is not an easy matter to discover those structures and to construct workable theories about them. There may be huge difficulties in gaining knowledge of essential structures and in converting such knowledge into the organized system of a strict theory.
Menger finds it necessary to justify inductively the basic causal categories that are arrived at by the analytic part of scientific method. The scientist needs to learn to recognize the general recurring structures in constantly changing reality. He says that theoretical knowledge is gained only by apprehending the phenomenon in question as a special case of a particular regularity in the succession or in the co-existence of phenomena. Economic reality manifests specific simple intelligible structures which the economic theorist is capable of grasping.
In explaining the transition from particulars i. In order to derive exact laws it was first necessary to identify the essential defining quality or essence in individual phenomena that underpins their recognition as representations of that type. Menger thus sought the simplest elements of everything real i.
To find the simplest elements, a person must abstract from all particular spatiotemporal circumstances. Aristotelian philosophy was the root of Menger's framework. His biologistic language goes well with his Aristotelian foundations in his philosophy of science and economics. Menger demonstrated how Aristotelian induction could be used in economics.
In addition, he based his epistemology on Aristotelian induction. Menger's Aristotelian inclinations can be observed in his desire to uncover the essence of economic phenomena. He viewed the constituent elements of economic phenomena as immanently ordered and emphasized the primacy of exactitude and universality as preferable epistemological characteristics of theory. Like Aristotle, Menger thought that the laws governing phenomena of thought processes and the natural and social world were all related as parts of the natural order.
In other words, the knowability of the world is a natural condition common to the various aspects of the external world and the human mind. Mises' Neo-Kantianism Menger had contended that the purpose of economic theory is the elucidate genetic-causal explanations of market phenomena. Mises was dissatisfied with Menger's Aristotelian methodology which for him was too closely related to reality.
Mises argued that concepts can never be found in reality. He wanted to study and develop pure theory and maintained that "theory alone" could provide firm guidance.
Mises wanted to construct a purely deductive system and was searching for a foundation upon which to build it. Mises was searching for a theoretical foundation that could not be questioned or doubted.
- Plato's Middle Period Metaphysics and Epistemology
He wanted to find knowledge of logical necessity. He also wanted to escape from the concrete-based empiricism of historicism. His mission became to look inward in order to deduce a system that was logically unobjectionable.
He wanted to find laws that could only be verified or refuted by means of discursive reasoning. Mises' axiom of action, the universal introspectively-known fact that men act, was the foundation upon which Mises built his deductive system.
Action, for Mises, is the real thing. Mises said that action was a category of the mind, in a Kantian sense, that was required in order to experience phenomenal reality i. The unity found in Mises' theorems of economics is rooted in the concept of human action.
Mises' economic science is deductive and based on laws of human action that he contends are as real as the laws of nature. His praxeological laws have no spatial, temporal, or cultural constraints. They are universal and pertain to people everywhere, at every time, and in all cultures. Not a strict Kantian, Mises modifies and extends Kant's epistemology.
However, he does make use of Kant's main terminological and conceptual distinctions and basic insights into the nature of human knowledge. Kant's philosophy constitutes an all-out attack on the mind's ability to know reality. Man is denied access to the noumenal world. The mind is trapped in its own logical way of thinking.
Kant's impositionist view is that the content of man's knowledge reflects certain structures or forms that have been subscribed or imposed on the world by the mind of the knowing subject. This knowledge is never directly of reality itself, but instead reflects the logical structures of the mind and reflects reality only as shaped, formed, or filtered by the human mind.
Like Kant, Mises believed that the human mind understood the world only through its own categories. However, Mises is not a pure Kantian. Unlike Kant, Mises does not attempt to make a transcendental argument to derive the categories. He merely says that there is a group of common categories lodged in men's minds through which they grasp that which exists.
What Mises considered as critical in Kant was his conviction that reason could supply universal and necessary knowledge. Mises also disagreed with Kant regarding freedom of the individual. Kant conceived of the noumenal or real self as possessing free will and of the phenomenal self as being determined by the rational desire for happiness.
Mises views freedom as the use of reason to attain one's goals. Assuming as little as possible, Mises says that we should assume people to be free and rational actors in the world as we perceive it since we have no certain knowledge of any determinants of human action, Mises was a metaphysical and cosmological agnostic regarding materialist or spiritual explanations of mental events.
Mises extends Kant by adding an important insight. Kantianism has been viewed as a type of idealism due to its failure to connect the mind's categories to the world. Mises further develops Kantian epistemology when he explains that the laws of logic affect both thought and action. He says that we must acknowledge that the human mind is a mind of acting persons and that our mental categories have to be accepted as fundamentally grounded in the category of action. Mises states that when this is realized, the notion of the existence of true synthetic a priori categories and propositions can be accepted as a realistic, rather than as an idealistic, philosophy of knowledge.
The mind and physical reality make contact via action. Mises believes that this insight fills in the gap between the mental world and the outside physical world.
Mises thus contends that epistemology depends on our reflective knowledge of action. Mises considers the law of human action to be a law of thought and as a categorical truth prior to all experience. Thinking is a mental action. For Mises, a priori means independent of any particular time or place. Denying the possibility of arriving at laws via induction, Mises argues that evidence for the a priori is based on reflective universal inner experience.
Unlike Menger, the father of Austrian economics, Mises did not believe the essential defining qualities or essences existed in individual phenomena that made possible their recognition as representatives of that type. If he had held to the notion that there are certain ontological, a priori, and intelligible structures in the world, then he may have considered the law of human action to be a law of reality rather than a law of thought.
An a priori in reality would not be the result of any forming or shaping of reality on the part of the experiencing subject. Rather, essences or universals would then be said to be discerned through a person's theoretical efforts.
It is hard to see how Mises could contend that a priori knowledge is gained exclusively through non-inductive means. Perhaps it would have been better if he had said that economic theory is based in part on introspection. He could have argued that sense data alone could not reveal to a person the essential purposefulness of human action. The action axiom could then be depicted as derived form a combination of both external observation and introspection.
Mises states that his action axiom, the proposition that men act, meets the requirements for a true synthetic a priori proposition. This proposition cannot be denied because the denial itself would necessarily be categorized as an action. Mises defines action as purposeful behavior. He explains that it cannot be denied that humans act in a purposeful manner because the denial itself would be a purposeful act. All conscious human action is directed toward goals because it is impossible to conceive of an individual consciously acting without having a goal.
Reason and action are congeneric. For Mises, knowledge is a tool of action and action is reason applied to purpose. When people look within, they see that all conscious actions are purposeful and willful pursuits of selected ends or objectives.
Reason enables people to choose. Human actions are engaged in to achieve goals that are part of the external world. However, a person's understanding of the logical consequences of human action does not stem from the specific details of these goals or the means employed. Comprehension of these laws does not depend on a person's specific knowledge of those features of the external world that are relevant to the person's goals or to the methods used in his pursuit of these goals.
Praxeology's cognition is totally general and formal without reference to the material content and particular features of an actual case. Praxeological theorems are prior to empirical testing because they are logically deduced from the central axiom of action.
By understanding the logic of the reasoning process, a person can comprehend the essentials of human actions. From this concept all of praxeology's propositions can be derived.
Mises contends that the axiom of action is known by introspection to be true. In the tradition of Kant, Mises argues that the category of action is part of the structure of the human mind. It follows that the laws of action can be studied introspectively because of aprioristic intersubjectivity of human beings.
Not derived from experience, the propositions of praxeology are not subject to falsification or verification on the basis of experience. Rather, these propositions are temporally and logically prior to any understanding of historical facts. For Mises, economic behavior is simply a special case of human action.
He contends that it is through the analysis of the idea of action that the principles of economics can be deduced. Economic theorems are seen as connected to the foundation of real human purposes. Economics is based on true and evident axioms, arrived at by introspection, into the essence of human action.
From these axioms, Mises derives logical implications or the truths of economics. Mises' methodology thus does not require controlled experiments because he treats economics as a science of human action. By their nature, economics acts are social acts.
Economics is a formal science whose theorems have no formal content and whose propositions do not derive their validity from empirical observations. Economics is the branch of praxeology that studies market exchange and alternative systems of market exchange. These include, but are not limited to: Many believe that Mises is on questionable grounds with his extreme aprioristic position with respect to epistemology.
However, his praxeology does not inevitably require a neo-Kantian epistemology. It is not inextricably tied to an aprioristic foundation. Other epistemological frameworks may provide a better underpinning for free will and rationality. For example, Misesian praxeology could operate within an Aristotelian, Thomistic, Mengerian or Randian philosophical structure.
The concept of action could be formally and inductively derived from perceptual data. Actions would be seen as performed by entities who act in accordance with their nature. Man's distinctive mode of action involves rationality and free will. Men are thus rational beings with free will who have the ability to form their own purposes and aims. Human action also assumes an uncoerced human will and limited knowledge.
All of the above can be seen as consistent with Mises' praxeology. Once we arrive at the concept of human action, Mises' deductive logical derivations can come with play. Murray Rothbard, student and follower of Mises, agrees that the action axiom is universally true and self-evident but has argued that a person becomes aware of that axiom and its subsidiary axioms through experience in the world.
A person begins with concrete human experience and then moves toward reflection. Once a person forms the basic axioms and concepts from experience with the world, he does not need to resort to experience to validate an economic hypothesis. Instead, deductive reasoning from sound basics will validate it.
The later Aristotelian, neo-Thomistic and natural-law-oriented Rothbard refers to laws of reality that the mind apprehends by examining and adducing the facts of the real world. Conception is a way of comprehending real things. They change because their properties are contingent. Their properties are contingent because they lack any essences or any essential properties.
But this is too quick. First, Plato's particulars may not change with respect to all of their properties. Perhaps some have essential properties along with a host of contingent properties. Then Aristotle might be taken to imply that only with respect to a certain number of contingent properties did Plato posit definable Forms.
Moreover, Aristotle seems to allude only to an epistemological difficulty arising from changing particulars. It is possible that this difficulty arises independently of whether some particulars have essential properties.
For instance, particulars might be epistemologically problematic because they have many properties, only some of which are changing. Suppose that a particular is F. Complexity entails that a particular has at least two properties, F and G.
Since the G is not-F, every complex particular can be said to be F and not-F. Our inability to grasp the property F in the particular is then grounded not in the compresence of an opposite property, but in the compresence of another property. The inquiring mind is unable to isolate the desired property from any other. This suggests that a fundamental contrast between the particulars and the Form F is that the latter is simple, or monoeidetic, in that it possesses just itself—It is just F.
METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY FOR A FREE SOCIETY: THE VIEWS OF MENGER, MISES & RAND
If we emphasize the contingency of all of its properties, a particular cannot have any essential properties. On the other hand, if we emphasize the complexity of the particular, then we are free to ascribe essences to some particulars. Hence, there could be knowledge of these particulars, i. Conversely, if complexity is the cause of cognitive deficiency, then with respect to Forms, the fact that all their properties are necessary properties would not suffice to render Forms knowable.
Thus Forms, too, might not be knowable. There is reason to doubt that the compresence of opposites or the mere complexity of particulars is responsible for their deficiency but see Fineesp. According to Aristotle, change is critical, especially in so far as it precludes definability and thus knowledge.
Given that knowledge requires essence, and essence excludes change in the case of the essential propertiesAristotle would have us deny that essence is predicable of particulars for the Plato of the middle period. Particulars will be epistemologically deficient in that there can be no knowledge of them, unless we abandon the thesis that knowledge is of essence. And particulars will be metaphysically deficient, at least to the extent that possessing an essence is a better state than lacking one.
But more can be said about the peculiar contingent manner in which particulars have their properties and why it is that one cannot look to the particular beauties to obtain knowledge of, e. From the outset of the Phaedo, particulars are branded as material and, as a result, spoken of in the pejorative.
Indeed, matter seems to be at the root of the other features that characterize particulars. What is extended in space and through, or in, time is body.
The composite is also linked with the material. Because a material particular is composite, it is also multi-form or complex Phaedo 80b4.
Complex material particulars are subject to change in so far as their composite nature invites dissolution or construction, or more generally coming-to-be or perishing.
And since compresence requires complexity, the material nature of particulars is one of the roots of each material, sensible particular being both F and not-F. The spatio-temporal, material character of particulars also contributes directly to the explanation of their suffering, and seeming to suffer, the compresence of opposites. In the middle period, Plato seems to accept an account of perception that has as a necessary component the interaction of material elements.
The qualifications needed to account for a particular's being F and not-F are temporal, or a function of being comparable to other extended material objects, or standing in different relations to perceivers.
In virtue of their material nature, particulars are extended, mutable, and subject to generation and destruction. How then is the materiality of the particular related to the characterization for which participation is responsible?
What materiality induces is that a property be manifested in a specific way. So, when we consider a particular stick to ask what is its length, we expect to be told a specific quantity: The same is true of its weight: If we are concerned to explain why the stick is that long, one answer is that the matter of the particular compels it to have determinate length. In the Meno 74ffPlato develops the notion of determinable and determinate.
There the properties themselves are determinates falling under a determinable, e. Now, the properties under consideration are all generic or determinable, but when present in the particular they take on a specific, determinate character.
Consider, for instance, mathematical figures. The Triangle itself will be a three-sided figure whose lines lack breadth and whose angles have no determinate degree.
But all particular triangles will have lines with some breadth and angles with certain degrees. The immaterial Form of Triangle is abstract and can have no particular dimension. The property in the particular, on the other hand, must be specific and determinate—the property in the particular is always a specific, determinate length, or color hueor size, or so on—because the particular is concrete, and because the property in the particular is itself a particular instance of the non-determinate property.
The determinacy of the material particular is set against the non-determinacy of the Form. This determinacy of property is only one aspect of the difference.
A second is the contingent way in which the particular has this determinate property. The material aspect is, in the case of particulars, partly responsible for the contingency of its property possession. Matter is a sufficient condition for contingency but not necessary, since souls are in many respects contingently what they are, e.
Matter is also a sufficient condition for complexity, though again not necessary, if souls, or Forms, can be complex. The criteria and the properties which differentiate Forms and particulars are related to their respective ways of being, but mutability, extendedness, etc.
Still, the deficiency of the sensible is aptly viewed in terms of its way of being, i. The deficiency of the sensible is its deficient way of being. Lacking any essence, it can only fail to Be. This notion of deficiency has a long pedigree. In one sense it is a new way of cashing out the idea that Forms and particulars are different kinds or types of entities.
The very same property, Beauty, is related, via Being, to the Form Beauty Itself that is related to the sensible particular via Partaking. The beauty of Helen is not itself deficient, her way of having it is.
And since beauty does not characterize Beauty, there is no case to be made that Beauty Itself could be a paradigmatically beautiful object.
It would appear, then, that only Forms are definable, since essence is not predicated of particulars. But it is not so simple. Based on the Phaedo's account of Being and Participating cf. Principles I and II, suprawe can conclude that: Each Form, F, Is its essence, Y.
Furthermore, since the Phaedo asserts that particulars are what they are in virtue of the Form's being what it Is, it follows that If P has Y, then P has something which Is Y. The motivation for this claim is our understanding of the thesis at c that Beauty Itself alone Is beautiful and that other things acquire their beauty in virtue of partaking in what Is beautiful. The traditional and obvious way to parse this claim is to allow that it is the Form Itself which the particular has, for it seems that only the Form whose essence is Y, Is Y.
But if this is true, then if, as the Identity view maintains, the Form and its essence are identical, it follows that the essence must also be predicable of the particular. In which case it seems that the particulars do have essences, albeit via Partaking, for they have something which is identical with an essence. Form-copies, the-large-in-Socrates, the hot-in-fire, and such, provide a way out of this predicament.
There is no consensus as to whether they are bona fide members of the ontology of the Phaedo bff. Many have argued that the so-called form-copies are nothing more than the Forms conceived of as inherent in, or immanent in, particulars, the particularization of the Form, or Forms as they function in the participation relation. They differ from their parent Form in that they are singular or unit-properties, whereas the Form is general and abstract. The relation of the form-copy to the particular is a real problem.
The crucial issue is whether form-copies are dependent on particulars, especially whether their claim to be individual or unit-properties is only as good as the company they keep.
Part of the difficulty results from the metaphor Plato's uses throughout the last stage of the Final Argument in the Phaedo. The soul, because it cannot perish, must therefore withdraw. Which of the two possibilities developed in the military metaphor does Plato envisage for form-copies: It is a struggle to understand just what the military metaphors amount to, but if the form-copies perish at the approach of their opposite, this suggests that form-copies are dependent on the particulars to which they belong.
Conversely, if they are able to withdraw, they are in some sense independent from the particulars. In this fashion they are akin to individual souls, since neither souls nor form-copies will be dependent for their existence on the particular to which they temporarily belong. But even if they withdraw and thus exist apart from the particulars, their individuality seems to be determined by the company they keep, e.
However, if form-copies are thus dependent on particulars, there is a problem with respect to the nature of particulars lurking in the Phaedo.
For it seems that particulars have all of their properties in virtue of participating in the relevant Forms. Particulars, then, are ultimately to be identified in terms of the properties they have, namely their form-copies. But if these form-copies, in turn, are themselves individuated by the particulars whose form-copies they are, we are confronted with a circle. Plato may be able to avoid this circle of individuation by not making form-copies depend on particulars for either their being or their individuation.
If their status as individuals is primitive, form-copies will not be individuated by the particulars to which they belong. In this respect they are like the individual souls, which, since they pre-exist and postdate the particulars they inhabit, are not and cannot be individuated by them. A form-copy is, in the strict sense, a simple individual, incapable of possessing anything besides the essence of the Form of which it is a copy.
Finally, they are not dependent on particulars, even for their individuation, because they can withdraw when necessary and thus continue to be what they are when the particular has perished. They can be said to perish, but only in the sense that the particular to which they temporarily attach can itself perish or change. Were they dependent on the particular, form-copies would in fact perish.
The reason they survive is that a form-copy Is what it is. In so far as anything Is what it is, it cannot cease to be, i. In this respect, too, they are like souls.
Both souls and form-copies are then individuals in their own rights, apart from any particulars in which they inhere. Form-copies belong to particulars and derive or emanate, to borrow a neo-Platonic term, from Forms. Form-copies allow Plato to respond to a threat posed by the metaphysics of Forms: If particulars are nothing in their own right, and in the absence of both matter and form-copies, then particulars are merely bundles of Forms;[ 20 ] but if they are bundles, then two particulars composed of the same Forms would be indiscernible and identical.
If we admit form-copies, particulars are not bundles of Forms. Particulars will be bundles of form-copies. And unlike a Form, which would seem to have to be numerically the same in each particular, the form-copies will differ from one another since they are distinct individual property-instances, not universals. However, while the particulars are no longer identical, this still allows that two bundles of form-copies could be indiscernible, since the form-copies of any one Form differ, it seems, solo numero.
Helen's form-copy of Beauty cannot differ in quality from Andromache's, but their form-copies are distinct. If we allow that Helen and Andromache are presumed to be distinct particulars in virtue of their matter, we can further distinguish the particulars and the form-copies, i. Here again, then, the assumption of the material particular is relevant.
When Plato recognizes that he has yet to account for matter, and thus the individuation of particulars, he has to compose the Timaeus. Particulars, then, have the properties they have because they have Form-copies derived from the Forms, which Are those properties. And when they inhere in the material particular, the particular has a definite, determinate property instance of Largeness or Beauty.
The particular is assumed to be a combination of matter and form-copies and in some cases, soul.
The Relationship Between Metaphysics and Epistemology
All the form-copies can be lost, for the particular has no essential properties or essence, and so too the soul can be lost. In fact, since Plato seems to think that the body also dissipates, the particular can totally disappear. Not so the Form, which Is what it is, an auto kath auto being, precisely in that its essence is predicated via Being of it, and it is the only Form of which that essence is predicated.
A particular, x, is what it is in virtue of Partaking. What makes x beautiful, for instance, is its having something which Is beautiful. This something can either be a Form or form-copy, for these alone Are beautiful. It might seem, however, that the qualitative aspect of property possession is being explained in terms of items that are not qualified or characterized in the appropriate manner.
This would be the result were Partaking analyzed in terms of, or reduced to, the relationship of Being. But in the middle period at least, Partaking is itself a primitive relation alongside Being. Moreover, at this juncture the participating subject is assumed to be a material particular, whose material nature goes without analysis.
The primitive relation of Partaking, along with the effects of matter, are thus responsible for the characterization of the particulars: The form-copy is not responsible for the concrete, determinate character of her beauty. Her being a material object, and her having of the form-copy cause her to be so characterized. That her determinate character is the character of Beauty, on the other hand, is due to the form-copy that she has, and this form-copy, in turn, causes her to be beautiful in virtue of being a form-copy of Beauty Itself.
In this respect, Plato sustains the Socratic notion that Forms are logical causes. The Form, Beauty Itself, makes possible the fact that Helen is beautiful, in so far as a form-copy of Beauty is something she has. Since she has all of her properties in this fashion, and since we seem to be able to identify her, and any particular, only through descriptions that refer to her properties, form-copies and their respective Forms are responsible for our epistemic access to particulars.
Introduction to Plato's Epistemology Epistemology, for Plato, is best thought of as the account of what knowledge is. A reader who has some familiarity with philosophy since Descartes may well think that epistemology must address the question whether there is any knowledge.
Plato never considers the global skeptical challenge. He assumes that there is knowledge, or at least that it is possible, and he inquires into the conditions that make it possible. These conditions, broadly conceived, concern, on the one hand, the rational capacities of humans, or more accurately souls, and, on the other hand, the objects of knowledge.
With respect to objects, Forms certainly are objects of knowledge. However, there is much dispute as to whether anything in the material world is a suitable object. The physical world is an image, an imperfect world of change. Many passages in the Phaedo and, most dramatically, the Republic's great metaphors of Sun, Line and Cave, imply that Plato is a skeptic about knowledge of the physical, sensible world.
Humans can have only beliefs about it. But many recoil at the prospect that Plato is such a skeptic. Citing the thrust of other discussions, these readers argue that while all knowledge for Plato must be based, in some sense, on Forms, one who knows Forms can also acquire knowledge of the physical world see Fine ; Concerns about the inherent intelligibility, or lack thereof, of the physical world, prompt Plato to propose the doctrine of recollection, i.
If Forms are the basic objects of knowledge, and Forms are not in the physical world, then we must have acquired that knowledge at some point prior to our commerce with that world. But metaphysical issues about the simplicity of Forms also affect how we are to conceive of knowledge in these middle period works.
If Forms are simple, then it seems that knowledge is intuitive or acquaintance-like: The central books of the Republic suggest such a picture. On the other hand, the many passages in which Plato declares that in order to know a Form one must be able to give its definition suggest both that Forms are related to one another, e. Gorgias a, a2—3, Republic b. These passages seem to imply that perhaps knowledge is some form of justified true belief.
A critical question then is how one obtains the appropriate kind of justification to tie down or convert a belief into knowledge. Thus we have four broad notions to explore in Plato's middle period epistemology: The Meno The Meno is probably a transitional work, bridging the Socratic and the middle period dialogues.
While the first third of the Meno is concerned with ethical questions, what is virtue and is virtue teachable, the last two-thirds address themselves to epistemological details generated from the thesis that virtue is knowledge. Here we find for the first time mention of recollection, which Socrates proposes as a solution to a paradox of inquiry put forward by Meno. The paradox is this 80d-e: For anything, F, either one knows F or one does not know F. If one knows F, then one cannot inquire about F.
If one does not know F, then one cannot inquire about F. Therefore, for all F, one cannot inquire about F. In his famous question and answer with a slave about how to find the diagonal of a given square, Socrates argues that latent within the slave is an understanding of how to determine the diagonal 81—86b.
The slave has various beliefs, some false and some true, about the way to discover the length of the diagonal. What is needed is only a set of prompts, here a set of questions, to elicit from the boy the knowledge that is latent within him. Socrates contends that he is leading the slave to recollect what he already knows. In the subsequent stages of the argument, Socrates distinguishes the sense in which a person can be said to merely have a belief about something into which one might inquirefrom the sense in which he can be said to know the same thing 97ff.
For instance, suppose that Jones has looked at a map and determined how to drive from New York City to Chicago though he has not done so: On the other hand, suppose that Smith has actually driven numerous times from NYC to Chicago by getting on 80 and heading west. Both Jones and Smith have the same belief about how to get from NYC to Chicago and both will get there by acting on their belief.
But only Smith has knowledge of the road, whereas Jones has a true belief. The truth of the belief is then not at issue. Rather, Smith has something more, some kind of justification, here based on experience, that distinguishes her from Jones: Jones has only a true belief about how to get there; Smith actually knows.
Thus in the Meno, we have perhaps the first attempt to offer a justified true belief account of knowledge: Knowledge is a true belief tied down with an account aitias logismos, 98a. The Meno, then, with its discussion of recollection, knowledge and belief sets the stage for the middle Platonic epistemology.
The question as to how one reasons is one such dilemma, yet this question and the myriad possibilities that arise from it falls partially in the domain of metaphysics.
Epistemology, in order to function as it is supposed to, must accept that knowledge can be communicated and that reality is a quantity that can be known, at least to some extent. Because there must be an underlying similarity between individuals in order be able to communicate this knowledge, so there must be at some level a similarity between human minds and that means that the concepts tied up in metaphysics must be linked to epistemology.
This strange dualism does not detract from either concept; indeed it actually enhances each one. By giving up dependence on the concept of uninterrupted reality, something outside science, epistemology does not relinquish objective truth; instead it grabs holds of it even more tightly and wraps itself up in the dualism created by its symbiosis with metaphysics. The core concepts espoused by both of these branches of philosophy are not at heart incompatible, in fact we see that the opposite is quite true.
Just as the foundation of epistemic inquiry is the belief in the existence of things, it is only apt that it should be counterbalanced by metaphysics, which questions that very existence.