Plato vs Descartes

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Philosophy 4 Spring 2010 Paper # 2, Topic # 1

In 1988 T. Berry Brazelton wrote a bestselling book called, “What Every Baby Knows.” If Plato were to examine this, he would assert that babies know much more then what the majority believes to be true today. Plato believes that Knowledge is not educated, but something that is inherent in us at birth. To come to this conclusion Plato had to first gain an understanding of what truth and reality actually are.

Plato thought that there were two worlds: the everyday changing world in which we exist, the world of becoming, and the unchanging world of eternal truths, the world of being. In this world of being Plato illustrates that the eidos, or forms, define what a substance truly is and that each and every thing has a Form on which it falls under. For example, we know the Form of a human so any human we come into contact with, regardless of size, shape, or color; we know to put them in the category of human because they fit the eternal Form. Depicted in his allegory of the cave, Plato comes to the belief that our everyday world is thought not to be an illusion but more like a “set of shadows”(79) cast upon us by the real world, and because of this Plato held the world of being much closer to him since only what was unchanging and eternal could he call to be true. The question then arises, how do we know what the forms are? Are they taught? Do we learn through experience? Plato’s response to this question would be if we don’t already know it, how would we recognize it when we find it? And if we already know it, it makes no sense to say that we learn it. Socrates taught his students, Plato being one of them, that the soul is immortal. Adding to this idea Plato came to the deduction that Knowledge is accumulated throughout the span of ones continuous lives lived, and is not learned but recollected, triggered by experience. That is why a...
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