Socrates & Theaetetus inquire into the definition of KNOWLEDGE
Theaetetus proposes several definitions
Socrates analyzes and rejects each
The dialogue ends in a state of confusion
The dialogue shows us what knowledge is NOT
Image of intellectual midwifery
Like a midwife who is herself without child, Socrates goes about the town trying to help others give a
successful birth (to truth).
With the aid of Socrates’ questions, Theaetetus will try to bring forth – from within himself – a correct idea of
the nature of knowledge.
Theaetetus and Eudoxus are renowned mathematicians, held to be the greatest in Greece.
So, it’s no surprise that the geometrical model of knowledge will be prominent in the dialogue.
1 Attempt: Knowledge is geometry and the crafts
This is a list of the objects of knowledge.
What we want is a definition of knowledge itself.
Want to discover a “single character” that “runs through” all the particular instances of knowledge.
2 Attempt: Knowledge is perception
We know things when we are looking at them, feeling them, hearing them, etc.
Perceptions are relative to the individual who is perceiving. E.g. Water might feel cold to someone whose hands are warm, and feel warm to someone whose hands
E.g. Wine tastes sweet when we are well, and sour when ill.
But, how things ARE is not relative to persons.
So, knowledge does not reside in our sense impressions.
We gain knowledge by reflecting upon those impressions.
Perception and knowledge cannot be the same.
The critique of perception has indicated that knowledge requires more than sensation.
It is not so much what affects the senses as what goes on in the mind.
So, it is not so much perception as judgment that yields knowledge.
3 Attempt: Knowledge is true judgment
What about false judgment?
How can I tell when my judgments are true?
There is no criterion for distinguishing true judgments from false judgments.
How am I to recognize and distinguish a piece of knowledge from a