Epistemological view on knowledge
The definition of knowledge cuts across many spectrums. Philosophical constructions by both Plato and Socrates have been launched by various scholars in the explanation of what knowledge is. However the constructions, one evident outcome is a dilemmatic hold on the different propositions that are held by the different scholars. The argumentative assertions have often been countered by questionings in relation to what is exactly known when one says that they have knowledge. This paper attempts to explain what knowledge is following a philosophical inclination and also investigate the reactions that epistemological theorists would have on the same. The paper questions the philosophical hold on knowledge and attempts to question the different aspersions that the members have on different illustrations. It therefore takes a stand on the various constructions that can be said for and/or against the philosophical inclinations advanced by people.
The problem of Knowledge as defined by various philosophers
According to Firey (1999), Plato argues that knowledge is a very wide field of thought that cannot be conceived on superficial exonerations but rather through a thorough self-inquiry and explication. This means that knowledge is not a simple construction that can be said to be so and so. One has to fully substantiate that they know what they know. Of importance to note is that the people must also be aware of what they know and how they know that they know. Otherwise as Stern (2002) notes, they will not give a rational justification of the claim they hold onto. It is therefore of necessity that if one claims to know, they should know what they think they know and how they know that they know. Firey (1999) refers to this as the substantiated true belief.
Plato holds that knowledge is based on memories of already experienced life (Brooks 2006). In this, Plato argues that learning is achieved through memories or recollections of the experiences that we have had in life. The soul here is figured to have an early exposition into the knowledge and experience. Therefore the people learn by identifying the early experiences. Plato’s second Socrates, knowledge is broader and evidential than Plato’s claim. In fact Socrates argues that one cannot base their judgement of knowledge on the belief. Belief can be based on a false inclination and this will kill off the legality of truth. By claiming that one knows because they believe something happened, erodes the basic understanding of what knowledge. Socrates argues against this by highlighting the issue of a jury which bases its construction of knowledge by believing that one is guilty because of accusations. Socrates argues that for the jury to claim that they know, they should be provides with the truth proof. Proof here should be something that is evidently conceivable rather than mere dissimulations of truth. Factual information and happening should form the rubric upon which the knowledge is based.
The third proposition advanced by Plato is that knowledge is that true belief which is accompanied by a rational account. Therefore to Plato, anything that is unaccompanied by a rational account is far removed from truth. Socrates questions Plato’s stand on this by pointing out that one cannot say that they know on mere hold that knowledge is justified by the rational accounts. To Socrates, truth is only conceivable through proof. Brooks (2006) argues that proof of the proposition is the only thing that can show the moral standing of the claim. On the contrary anything that does not have a solid proof is held as a mere falsified truth (Brooks 2006). To Socrates the definition of knowledge should not be based on justifiable beliefs since the beliefs can take different positions of falsehood or truth (Stern 1999). It is therefore very hard for one to conceive whether the belief is true of false. The definition of knowledge should therefore be based on an understanding of knowledge.
Another philosophical ambiguity that is not easily demystified by the parties claiming to know is Socrates illusions of knowledge. Socrates dismisses the proposition that knowledge is justified true belief through a number of ways. Brooks (2006) observes that Socrates take on knowledge is that it is a simple and single component that is objectified by truth, relevance and evidenced by proof. Therefore the knowledge of something is held as a single faculty. Anything that is not deemed under one faculty therefore goes against the tide, hence falling out of the definition of what knowledge is likely to be. To Socrates the faculty of knowledge has an infallible function while the faculty of belief has an infallible function. Therefore when one says that they belief that something is true, it could as well be based on infallibility as compared to one who says that is they know. Socrates says that a true belief can as well be based on falsehood and therefore does not justify the quality of knowledge. While the latter does not support the proposition of universality and completeness in construction of truth, the argument is therefore deemed incomplete. Instead Socrates constructs knowledge based on moral quality of the object being claimed to be known.
Think Quest (2011) argues that Socrates definition of knowledge is far removed from the traditional understanding of knowledge as a justified true belief of something. In his epistemological hold, Socrates points out that if one claims that they know something, then the people concerned have the capacity of identifying the properties of the object that is claimed to be known. The person is therefore able to construct other deduction based on the factors and qualities that he/she knows about the object. Therefore the moral knowledge of something is deemed to be epistemologically superior to that where the person has their own justifications of accepting their beliefs (Firey 1999). It is therefore this epistemic superiority that Socrates anoints as knowledge and therefore setting it apart from the many allusions developed by many scholars.
The understanding of knowledge is thus viewed in conflicting manners as different scholars and people have their own interpretations of knowledge. Stern (1999) notes that people are unique and each is vested with own unique and idiosyncratic view or take on life. Therefore what is true on one person may not be necessarily the beliefs adopted by the other. The understanding and construction of knowledge as a justified true belief by many scholars is therefore not a scenario of uniformity but one characterize by different aspersions. One may be left wondering what the constructions adopted by different philosophers holds on. The sole reason however can be identified by questioning the basic tenets on which the construction of knowledge is based. Brooks (2006) argues that knowledge is a justified true belief. This puts one in the category of three factors. One of the factors is justice. Justice here means fairness and without a partisan following. Therefore the construction of knowledge is purely based on the known fact and there is no external consideration in determining the truth of knowledge. True belief means, that the object of knowledge is essentially the truth as known. Think Quest (2011) holds that in this there is evidence that that is the sole truth and actual stands of things. When this happens, there are no other inclinations in the definitions
It is however difficult to construct the single inclination of truth. Socrates argues against Plato’s proposition by advancing that knowledge is ideally a single unit that should not be liable to misinterpretations or different propositions. In this bid, Socrates highlights that Knowledge is a single unit that has an infallible quality (Firey 1999). It is the infallible quality that is different from the belief factor. While the belief factor has an infallible factor, knowledge holds on infallibility. Therefore, the understanding of knowledge as a justified true belief is counted by the argument poised by Socrates. Different interpretations of truth, belief and rationality of the factors forming the essentials of defining knowledge have an influence in determining the variations in the understanding of knowledge as an epistemological proposition.
The understanding of what knowledge has been met with different interpretations by different people and scholars. What s more striking is the propensity with which the variations are cast. However, the interpretation of the different aspersions held by philosophers is pegged on the uniqueness in the understanding launched by the people. The understanding of different factors or relations with the people forms the basic rubric with which the people construct their understanding of what knowledge is. While Plato argues towards the proposition that knowledge is justified true belief, Socrates casts a new philosophical hold that it the moral superiority that determines what knowledge is. The persons understanding of the object of knowledge will determine whether that persons knows the object or not. If the person does not know the object to an extent that they can describe it exhaustion, therefore the person does not know. The problems of definition of knowledge are therefore deeply intertwined within the uniqueness and the philosophical hold that is held by the persons launching the definition.
Brooks, T 2006, ‘Knowledge and Power in Plato’s Political Thought’, International Journal Of Philosophical Studies, 14, 1, pp. 51-77, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 May 2012.
Firey, T, 1999, “ Socrates’ Conception of Knowledge and the Priority of Definition, Blacksburg, Virginia. Retrieved http://scholar. lib. vt. edu/theses/available/etd-100499-091648/unrestricted/Firey. pdf
J. E., C n. d., ‘Knowledge and Practice’, International Journal Of Ethics, 20, 1, JSTOR SRU gateway, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 May 2012.
Stern, P. 1999, ” Tyranny and self-knowledge: Critias and Socrates in Plato’s Charm ides”, The American Political Science Review, vol. 93, no. 2, pp. 399-412.
Stern, P. 2002, ” The Philosophic Importance of Political Life: On the ” Digression” in Plato’s Theaetetus”, The American Political Science Review, vol. 96, no. 2, pp. 275-289.
Think Quest, 2011. “ Plato’s Thoughts On Knowledge: Retrieved from http://library. thinkquest. org/18775/plato/knowp. htm