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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Plato’s views on knowledge. The constant themes in his dialogues are as follows. The first is that knowledge is systematic. Over specific areas, such as mathematics and morality, and even conceivably for reality as a whole, items of knowledge are systematically interconnected, and it is the task of inquiry in those areas to reveal those connections. The second is that for any department of knowledge (and, conceivably, for reality as a whole), the primary knowledge is knowledge of what things are. Given the metaphysical theory of Forms as the basic things that there are, Forms are the primary objects of inquiry. Changes in (or uncertainties about) that theory are reflected in corresponding changes in Plato’s views (or uncertainties) about knowledge. The third is that knowledge of what things are is achieved a priori, by critical reflection. Empirical investigation has at best a secondary role in the achievement of knowledge. These themes may be summed up as the doctrine that the aim of inquiry is to achieve systematic understanding of the intelligible principles of reality.

Keywords: Plato, dialogues, philosophy, Socrates, knowledge

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