Knowledge and Belief

Topics: Plato, Epistemology, Truth Pages: 5 (1703 words) Published: October 29, 2012
Prompt: In your own words explain the distinction being made between belief and knowledge in the given dialogue. Then explain what the importance of this distinction is.
In Gorgias, Plato uses a conversation between two men to lay the groundwork for knowledge and belief, suggesting that everything is subjective when it comes to these words, and their definitions are open for much interpretation past their most simplest of meanings. Gorgias is meant as a guideline in which we can decide whether or not an object, idea, or event is belief or knowledge. So you ask: What are the distinctions between belief and knowledge? Knowledge is experienced, reasoned, proved, accepted, learned, and then understood while belief is faith in something that does not have to be true. So for the sake of simplicity, knowledge is public and belief is private.

In the conversation, the two men bring up two distinct points that must be addressed: the difference between belief and knowledge and the two kinds of convictions that stem from them (The Republic). Despite agreeing with their concluded distinction that there are such things as true and false beliefs but only true knowledge, my view on the convictions of these concepts is quite different from that of Socrates and Gorgias (Gorgias). They conclude that there exist two types of conviction: that of which contains proven knowledge and that of which contains belief without knowledge (Gorgias). If this were so, then how do we discover new knowledge? Where does the middle ground exist? Plato makes up for this restricted statement in his allegory of the cave. I think he suggests the different stages of knowledge and belief through the exposure of the chained. Those chained are fully convicted in their belief and do not yet possess knowledge (The Republic). The one that is freed treads ever so slightly into knowledge cautious, yet curious about where he is headed. He exits the cave and is blinded by knowledge and in return his false beliefs of the world are stripped away. Confused and disoriented about his convictions he looks into the pool of water and sees himself truly for the first time and with the image of himself becomes convicted in true knowledge (The Republic). From here we can explore the areas of knowing and ways of knowing.

One area of knowing is the Natural Sciences, these include Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy and so on. This area of knowing is most often considered the most solid of the basic six areas because of it's seemingly infinite amount of proof. For example, I know that at this moment in time, I am sick. My fever above 100 degrees, swollen throat and total body soreness hint to me that something is wrong. I am experiencing aches and fever. I then reason that my symptoms mirror that of strep throat. The irritation within my throat provides the evidence I need to conclude, I am sick. Thankfully, the guidelines for assessing an illness have already been accepted and learned and I now can truthfully claim “I know that I am sick”. This is a temporary knowledge claim because, hopefully and most likely this state of sickness will not last for the rest of my life. How can I be certain if I do not understand everything about the human body and it's functions? As Olen writes in chapter 15 of his book, Persons and Their World, “ If all conditions are met, we have knowledge; if any one of them is not met, we don't” (Olen). Needless to say, in this particular case of knowledge it is not necessary for me to fully understand my bodily processes, but rather that my symptoms meet the conditions of being sick. Regardless or not whether I need to know all of the criteria for a severe throat infection, doctors must be completely knowledgeable in the field of science in order to diagnose me with my illness. This is a major pro for the population at large. If we have knowledgable physicians then we have a safer environment when it comes to

Some knowledge, like geometry is required to have total...

Cited: Clinton, Wallace. "Harem Hell: Desert Wives Lead Lives of Agony." Weekly World News | The
World 's Only Reliable News! 21 Jan. 1992. Web. 04 Feb. 2012. .
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Olen, Jeffrey. Persons and Their World: An Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Random House, 1983. Print.
Plato, and Tom Griffith. The Republic. Vol. VII. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
Plato. Gorgias. Oxford: Clarendon, 1979. Print.
Wikipedia. Web. 04 Feb. 2012. .
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