True Opinion and Knowledge

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True Opinion and Knowledge
In The Meno, Plato articulates his view about the difference between true opinion and knowledge. From Plato’s point of view, “knowledge is prized higher than correct opinion” (Gendler, Siegel,&Cahn, 2008, p.344). Then it is necessary to figure out why knowledge is more than merely true opinion and what makes knowledge superior to true opinion. Therefore, in this paper, I am going to illustrate the answers of these two questions with examples, which helps to understand Plato’s thought. Although knowledge is more than merely true opinion, there are some conditions in which true opinion serves equally well as knowledge. Plato uses the example of guiding the way to Larissa to illustrate the relation between true opinion and knowledge. In the example, a man asks two guides to show him the way to Larissa. One of the guides has true opinion on guiding the way, whereas the other one has knowledge on guiding the way. Then the asker faces a dilemma: which guide should he believe? Or are both guides believable? In regards to this dilemma, Plato reaches the conclusion that as long as the guide “has the right opinion about that of which the other has knowledge, he will not be a worse guide than the one who knows, as he has a true opinion, though not knowledge” (Gendler et al., 2008, p.343). In other words, true opinion may serve equally well as knowledge under certain conditions. Then what are the conditions? First, the opinion that comes to mind should necessarily be true. If an opinion is wrong, then there is no sense to consider it as knowledge. That is just like someone with a false idea on guiding the way to Larissa that cannot help the asker. Second, there must be someone who is willing to believe the true opinion. If the guide’s true opinion on directing the way is not accepted by the asker, for whatever reason, then the true opinion is worth nothing. The last one, and also the trickiest, is that the true opinion has to appear in man’s mind when it is needed; in other words, man should be able to recall the true opinion in time. However, true opinion is just like the big prize in lottery. It is unpredictable and occasional. No one can promise that his or her opinion is always true. But once true opinion appears and others are willing to believe it, it serves equally well as knowledge. These three conditions allow true opinion enjoys the same consequence as knowledge does, but also remind us of the difference between true opinion and knowledge. From above, we know that opinion has to be true, reliable, and easy to be recalled, in order to serve as knowledge. Then how can we make sure that opinion can always be true, reliable, and easy to be recalled? The answer is to justify the opinion with reasonable supporting evidence. Justification is a statement aimed at explaining beliefs, which is also the difference between true opinion and knowledge. With justification, we can prove the truth of the opinion we have. If the guide has ever been to Larissa, then his opinion should be true because he has successful experience on it. In addition, his successful experience to Larissa can also convince the asker of his true opinion, which makes his true opinion more reliable. In this sense, successful experience is one kind of justification that gives others a “reason why” to believe the opinion we have is indeed true and reliable. For example, we always want to consult with an expert while we are making a decision. What we need is the successful experience owned by the expert, which helps us to justify our opinions. Therefore, justification does help to make the true opinion become closer to knowledge. Besides, justification can make true opinion become easy to be recalled as well. Normally, when we talk about recalling something, it seems to relate to some kind of fortune. For example, if someone asks me what I ate for dinner last Friday, I will be unsure whether I can remember or not because there is...
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