Part II Epistemology
LECTURE NINE: PLATO: Anamnesis
A. Epistemology: some general points
o What is the difference between knowledge and belief?
o Can we ever be utterly, 100%, certain that something is true?
o What makes memory images memory images?
o What makes a sentence true (or false)?
o What is the status of scientific laws? How certain are they?
o Given that all experience is private (remember Sarah and the GOS!), how do
we achieve public knowledge?
o Does the world out there resemble my impressions of it?
B. Plato and anamnesis
0. Historical Matters
a) The great trio: Socrates(469- 399 BCPlato(429-347 BCEAristotle(384-322
o “Barefoot in Athens” (walked around Athens barefoot)
o Questioner: ask questions to his students
o Conversations; did not write anything
o Tried for (charged) “importing new gods” and “corrupting
the youth”; executed in 399 BCE
o Began by writing down the remembered conversations of
Socrates (for of Plato’s writing was dialogue)
o Fine Greek Stylist
o Founded a school called “The Academy” (hence Academic)
o Theory of Forms
o Socratic Question: in Plato’s dialogue the main speaker is
(almost) always Socrates
o Great interest in all of natural science, especially biology
o Hugely diverse interest, foundational in many disciplines
o Somewhat the antithesis of Plato (rejecting)
o Founded a rival school, the Lyceum (high school) b) The "Socratic Question"
1. The puzzle about abstract ideas
a) Equal sticks
o Where do abstract ideas come from?
o Ex. Have an idea of absolute perfect equality… but where does
it come from?
o Any triangle I see will I have certain measurements or type