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Answer the following questions in a clear and organized paragraph. Each paragra

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Philosophy | 0 comments

 

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Answer the following questions in a clear and organized paragraph. Each paragraph should include a clear and precise thesis (1-2 sentences) that directly addresses the question prompt, at least 1 direct quote from the materials of the course, and at least 5-7 sentences or more than analyze the direct quotes and explain how the evidence supports your thesis.
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Plato’s analogies of the sun and the divided line fit together to form a coherent picture of Plato’s epistemology and metaphysics. Explain this model by using as many details from the text as you can.
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In Meditation II, Descartes uses the example of a piece of wax to argue that even physical things must be understood with the mind and not the senses. Explain his reasoning on this point.
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13. Sun, Line and Cave
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The argument at the end of Book Five is a prelude to the argument and analogies of Sun, Line and Cave in Books Six and Seven. The point of Sun is to contrast the visible and intelligible realms. The former is generated, nurtured and governed by the sun, which also provides the light required by the eye to gain access to the physical world. Corresponding to the sun in the intelligible realm is the Good: “What gives truth to the things known and the power to know to the knower is the Form of the Good. And though it is the cause of knowledge and truth, it is also an object of knowledge.” (508e). Indeed, the Good is responsible for the very ‘being’ of the knowable objects, though Plato never says in what sense the Good is responsible for the knowability and being of the objects of knowledge (see Santas 1980).
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Line starts from the broad division stipulated by Sun: there is the intelligible realm and the visible realm. Each of these is again divided into two (unequal) parts. At the bottom of the visible one finds images, shadows and such. The ordinary physical objects of which the images are images occupy the upper portion. Set over the images is the faculty of eikasia, imagination. Set over the physical world is the faculty of pistis, literally faith or conviction, but generally regarded as belief. Plato next turns to the lower segment of the intelligible portion of Line:
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In (this) subsection, the soul, using as images the things that were imitated before, is forced to investigate from hypotheses, proceeding not to a first principle, but to a conclusion. In the other subsection, however, it makes its way to a first principle that is not a hypothesis, proceeding from a hypothesis, but without the images used in the previous subsection, using Forms themselves and making its investigation through them (510b).
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The top-most segment of Line is clear enough. The objects are Forms and the faculty set over Forms is Nous, Knowledge or Understanding. Included in this group is the Good itself, best regarded as having the status of first among equals. Precisely what to make of the objects in the third section, the faculty of dianoia, and the nature of hypotheses are matters of great controversy. Given Plato’s examples, the capacity of dianoia seems distinctive of scientific or mathematical reasoning. (On the question of hypotheses and the relation of this passage to the hypothetical method of the Phaedo, see §15 supra.) The objects of dianoia are then, roughly, the objects of the sciences. There appear to be two basic approaches to the ‘objects’ of dianoia, depending on how one understands the participial phrase “using as images the things that were imitated before”: 1) The objects of this segment are some kind of ‘abstract’ image of ordinary material things – a kind of image different from the kind that are shadows and reflections; or 2) the objects are either the material objects themselves though now treated (abverbially, as it were) in a special, different way, or they are Forms, though treated in a way different from that way in which noûs treats Forms (see Burnyeat 1987).
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Cave, arguably the most famous analogy in the history of philosophy, reinforces the message of line. Seated prisoners, chained so that they cannot move their heads, stare at a cave wall on which are projected images. These images are cast from carved figures illuminated by a fire and carried by people on a parapet above and behind the prisoners. A prisoner is loosed from his chains. First he sees the carved images and the fire. Then he is led out of the cave into ‘the real’ world. Blinded by the light of the sun, he cannot look at the trees, rocks and animals around him, but instead looks at the shadows and reflections (in water) cast by those objects. As he becomes acclimatized, he turns his gaze to those objects and finally, fully acclimatized, he looks to the source of illumination, the sun itself.
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In the analogy of Cave, corresponding to the physical objects over which belief is set are the carved statues in the cave. Corresponding to the ‘using as images what before were imitated’ are the reflections in the pond. If, however, Cave is our guide, these dematerialized images are generated not from the carved statues but from the animals, i.e., the Forms themselves.
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14. The Development of Mind
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The Seventh Book continues with the kinds of study conducive to the education of the philosopher-ruler (521cff). The goal of intellectual development is knowledge of Forms, ultimately acquired through dialectic. Dialectic, however, is practiced late in life by a select few with the requisite memory and quickness of mind, after they have studied various, essentially mathematical disciplines. The winnowing process eliminates most people from ever developing the necessities for philosophical thought. The first steps (523a-525a) in the turn towards abstract thinking are occasioned by the need for the mind to settle questions arising from ordinary perception; that is, the mind of everyman is liable to be summoned to reflect upon the confused, and confusing, reports of perception. About a host of perceptual qualities, thick, thin, hard, soft, large and small, the senses report that they are the same, at least in certain perceptual circumstances. Lumped in with these properties is also number. The mind is summoned to settle what is large and what is small, and what is one.
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The brief discussion of the summoners raises suspicions about the faculty psychology presented in the final argument of Book V and in Line and Cave. It seems at times that Plato thinks that belonging to each part of the soul are capacities or faculties capable of issuing judgments (cf. 602c-603a; see Burnyeat 1976). So, for instance, there are the judgments of sense that can and often do conflict with the judgments of reason. But taken literally, if each faculty has its own objects such that no other faculty can be set over them, then there can be no conflict in judgments. The case of perception poses a special difficulty. Perception, unlike discursive thought or belief, is aligned not with the so-called rational part of the soul, but with the desiderative part. As we saw in the Phaedo, as well as in the passages about the sightlovers and the summoners, the senses are disparaged as a source of confusion and falsehood. The senses mislead us. One of Plato’s complaints seems to be that people rely on perception, or belief relying on perception, with the result that they come to think that what is real is the physical, sensible world. And, perhaps even worse, they come to think that one can understand (know) things about the world such as what makes (for example) a temple beautiful or a stick equal or a person large by appealing to properties that are perceptual or observational or sensible.
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Proponents of the thesis that Plato posits Forms only for incomplete properties locate the problem for the sensible world not in the objects themselves, but in the kinds of explanations that sightlovers and non-philosophers rely on to justify their claim to know (propositions about) the sensible, material world (see Fine 1978; 1990; Irwin 1977; Gosling 1960). It need not be the case, as the predicative reading in terms of objects would have it, that a given temple is and is not- beautiful. In their view, the problem is the sensible property types cited by the sight-lovers in their accounts of what makes something beautiful. For example, there is the sensible property type, bright-color, that allegedly explains why the temple at Bassae is beautiful. But, bright-color itself, the property type, is and is not-beautiful, for it accounts for beauty in some things but accounts for ugliness (not-beauty) in others. The crucial text for this reading is 479d3–5: “So we have discovered, apparently, that most people’s varying standards (nomima) of beauty and things like that are rattling around somewhere in the middle, between what is not something and what purely and simply is something” (Ferrari/Griffith trans.) The veridical reading translates nomima as ‘beliefs’ and contends that because most people rely on sensible property types as the justification for their beliefs, they are condemned to live in the realm of belief. For, according to this reading, every sensible property type suffers from this compresence of opposites, i.e., is F and not-F. In appealing to such properties in their accounts, the sight lover can never be justified in any of his beliefs about the many beautifuls, because their accounts or reasons for their beliefs about the world must be false. Hence, the sightlover can have only beliefs about the many beautifuls, or equals, or, for any incomplete property F, the many fs. The sight-lover can never achieve knowledge so long as he relies on sensible properties in his accounts. And since Plato thinks that there is knowledge, he infers, says the veridical reading, that there must be non-sensible objects, or rather there must be accounts or explanations available which can be phrased in terms of ‘non-sensible’ properties, i.e., must appeal to properties which are not both F and not-F, or more precisely, do not make some things, say beautiful, and others ugly.
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The veridical reading, combined with the account that limits Forms to incomplete properties (See §6, supra), allows for the possibility that the philosopher can have knowledge of the visible realm. This can come about for at least two reasons. On the one hand, there will be a host of non-sensible properties and propositions about ordinary particulars and such properties, e.g., ‘Socrates is a man’. Since arguably Plato thinks that Socrates is completely or essentially a man, and since there is no Form of Man, the philosopher (and, perhaps, anyone) can know such a proposition. On the other hand, the philosopher, once he comes to know the Forms of the Incomplete Properties, can then have knowledge of the external world in any and all respects. Not misled by the compresent opposite properties, and able to base all his accounts on the Good and the other Forms, nothing stands in his way of knowing the material world (520c).[23]
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The predicative reading of the argument of Book V and the analogies of the central books does not limit the range of Forms and does not commit itself to the possibility of knowledge of the external world. If one treats the physical world as metaphysically defective, as victimized in any and every respect by its being and not-being, then that suffices to preclude one from knowing anything about such a world. The objects of the physical world are simply not the right sorts of things to qualify as objects of knowledge, regardless of what sorts of reasons or justifications or explanations one has at her disposal.
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Regardless of the epistemic status of the physical world, one task is to understand how Plato thinks the transition is made from one’s perceptions and beliefs about the physical world to knowledge of the Forms. In the Republic, Socrates says that every human being is capable of becoming a philosopher and thus able to know the Good and all the Forms (518c). On the other hand, the Republic leaves little doubt that Plato expects that few will actually achieve the knowledge each is capable of. Most of us will give in to the ordinary beliefs generated through our perceptual encounters with the sensible world, as well as those resulting from the conversations we have with one another. Most will never even begin, it seems, the course of study outlined in Book VII, and most of those who begin will not become dialectically sophisticated so that they can give an account of what they know that will ‘destroy the hypotheses’. But despite the odds, from the Phaedo and Republic we can locate two elements of Plato’s epistemological program that can lead to knowledge if properly exercised, recollection and the method of hypothesis. The latter is mentioned explicitly in the Phaedo and seems again to be alluded to in Plato’s remarks about the differences between the top two sections of line. Since this method, assuming that it is the same in both, appears to be deployed as part of the final stages of the pursuit of knowledge, there is reason to postpone consideration of the method until after consideration of perception and belief, i.e., the first two stages of Line.
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The Phaedo’s discussion of Recollection suggests that there is something inherently flawed with empiricist or abstractionist accounts, at least those that attempt to derive any concept from our contacts, perceptual or linguistic, with the external world. It seems that Plato thinks that the deficiency of the external, sensible, material world vitiates all efforts to build or acquire concepts from it. The deficiency of the sensible material world makes it an unreliable source of information. Depending on how one accounts for this deficiency, the trouble for perception, and belief based on perception, is explained in different ways. Aristotle’s account emphasizes that it is changing. Another source of difficulty is that the abstract, general Forms are always manifested in a concrete, determinate fashion (See §7, supra). The Affinity Argument points to the complexity of material particulars. Rather than present a single property, as it were, to perception, perception is required to focus on some aspect of the complex particular. If it is also true that at least with respect to some properties, namely the incomplete or relative properties addressed by the Compresence accounts, every object is both F and not-F, then no sensible will be an unqualified bearer of these properties. Perception, considered in its own right, seems to be unable to explain how any feature of an object is selected for study. It also seems that Plato thinks that the psychological faculties of perception, or even belief, are incapable of processing the information in a reliable manner, or at least in a manner requisite for knowledge. At times it seems that they distort or alter perceptions (Phaedo, 65ff). At other times, e.g., when we emphasize the difference between the faculties, it seems that they are confined to work on whatever they process in such a manner that they do not pass along anything to the rational faculty, or if they do, they pass it along to belief. One problem is that whenever one engages in perception, and belief based on perceptual reports, one can never overcome the inherently perspectival situation. For instance, no matter where one is situated, the round penny will appear to the eye, we might say, somewhat elliptical. Or, to use Plato’s example from Book Ten, the straight stick in water will seem bent (owing to the laws of refraction), even though an experienced person will believe that it is straight (602c-603a).
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