Plato Defends Rationalism
Plato was a highly educated Athenian Philosopher. He lived from 428-348 B.C. Plato spent the early portion of his life as a disciple to Socrates, which undoubtedly helped shape his philosophical theories. One topic that he explored was epistemology. Epistemology is the area of philosophy that deals with questions concerning knowledge, and that considers various theories of knowledge (Lawhead 52). Plato had extremely distinct rationalistic viewpoints. Rationalism is the claim that reason, or intellect, is the primary source of our fundamental knowledge about reality (55). By examining Plato’s philosophical position on the three basic epistemological questions, as well as analyzing his ability to justify the three anchor points of rationalism, it is clear to see that Plato was successful in defending rationalism.
There are three basic questions that are the basis for determining the difference between each of the epistemological viewpoints. The first of these is: Is knowledge possible? In order to understand exactly what is being asked here, it is important to consider the agreed definition of knowledge as being a “true justified belief” (53). Plato believed that yes, it is possible to have knowledge. He claimed that as long as one has the ability to recognize something as false, they are capable of having knowledge. The second question is: Does reason provide us with knowledge of the world independently of experience? Plato would also answer yes to this question as well. Many objected to this, believing that knowledge was a result of sense experience rather than reason. Plato examined this theory (empiricism); he argued that, because the physical world is subject to change, there can be no real truth in knowledge that is based solely on one’s senses. He then used the examples Justice, Goodness, and Equality to justify his argument that there are some things that we cannot come to know through experience alone, thus...
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