Plato and the Concept of Knowledge

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Jessica Corbett
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Plato and the Concept of Knowledge – Paper 1
Plato’s Theaetetus is a dialogue that discusses and attempts to find a definition of knowledge. The two characters, Socrates and Theaetetus, approach the argument with the initial idea that knowledge is the addition of a true judgment and an account. However, Socrates raises some concerns regarding the fundamental aspects that make the definition true. Ultimately, the two characters find that their original definition of knowledge is not as accurate, nor as simple as they once believed. The article opens with Theaetetus recalling a definition of knowledge he once heard, which stated “true judgment with an account is knowledge [and is therefore knowable], and the kind without an account falls outside the sphere of knowledge [and is therefore unknowable]” (126). Socrates begins to question one’s ability to determine whether something is or is not knowable, and he demonstrates the concept using the relationship between elements and complexes. In doing so, he explains a recent dream of his, which, in turn, is actually an explanation of Dream Theory. Dream Theory states that “the primary elements, of which we and everything else are composed, have no account. Each of them itself, by itself, can only be named” (126). In other words, as elements cannot be broken down further, elements cannot have an account because that would require the determining of whether or not the said elements exist. The addition of that information onto the original element itself results in something that is no longer in its simplest form. Therefore, no elements can have accounts, nor can they be knowable; elements can only be perceived. Consequently, this poses the question as to whether or not complexes are knowable given that their elements are not.

When complexes are viewed as the sum of all their elements, it is safe to conclude that the complexes are unknowable, as their elements are unknowable. This...
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