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Infallibility of Knowledge in Plato's Republic

Infallibility of Knowledge in Plato's Republic - Plato's discussion of knowledge in The Republic includes arguments for the infallibility of knowledge. The research paper will examine Plato's theory of infallibility to show why he contends that that we cannot have knowledge of the ordinary, visible objects and properties. The discussion of these arguments will demonstrate that Plato's concept of Forms is fundamental to the argument.

Infallibility of Knowledge in Plato's Republic

Central to Plato's argument regarding a property's fluctuating intermediacy, is his argument for the infallibility of knowledge. This argument focuses on the inherent difference between belief and knowledge described above. Plato argues that in order for a man to know something there must be something for him to know. Therefore, as in the case of properties, only something real can be known. Knowledge differs from belief in that its object is to know the truth about reality. That is, it is concerned with what is real. While Plato contends that ignorance is concerned with that which is unreal, and beliefs lie somewhere in between reality and unreality, in the fluctuating realm of intermediacy.

Plato believed that there were two fundamental worlds that co-exist in reality. One was a world of essential, eternal forms and the other consists of appearances. The world of appearances was composed of ordinary visible objects that were only reflections of their essential Forms and therefore, they were no more real than a reflection of a person in a mirror is a real person. That is, while the form of Beauty was real, the multitude of beautiful objects that existed in the world was not real, according to Plato, but actually in a fluctuating realm between what was real and unreal, according to Plato. Furthermore, while the essential Form of Beauty or Strength cannot be ugliness or weakness, the multitude of beautiful and strong objects and appearances that populate our world can be both ugly and weak. Because of the temporal, changing and somewhat relative nature of appearances, Plato believed that they might never be known. One may have beliefs or opinions about objects and appearances, but it is different than knowledge because its object is not real.

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