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Philosophy Matrix II
Ancient Quest for Truth
Philosophy Matrix II: Ancient Quest for Truth
Use the matrix to analyze Plato and Aristotle's theory of knowledge and apply both to current day practices.
In the first column, using the readings about Plato's search for truth and his theories of knowledge, discuss how contemporary people may be living in a cave and which steps, based on Plato's model of the Divided Line, will be necessary for their enlightenment.
In the next column, based on Aristotle's science of the first philosophy, analyze how Aristotle's metaphysics may guide contemporary people to knowledge about the world.
In the final fields, evaluate how you use either or both of the methods in your own life and explain how Plato and Aristotle used pre-Socratic philosophy.
Cite your sources consistent with APA guidelines.
In 250 to 500 words, using the readings about Plato's search for truth, and his theories of knowledge, discuss how contemporary people may be living in a cave and which steps, based on Plato's model of the Divided Line, will be necessary for their enlightenment.
In 250 to 500 words, based on Aristotle's science of the first philosophy, analyze how Aristotle's metaphysics may guide contemporary people to knowledge about the world.
Plato's search for the truth is ultimately focused on reason. Plato believed that everything constantly changes and that nothing in the world of senses is eternal (Plato, 2012, p. 200). As a result, only those things that humans grasp by reason can be eternal. Consequently, if a person sees (using his senses) a cube, he/she can only accurately say that it resembles a cube; he/she cannot certainly know that it is a perfect cube; however, with accurate measurements (reason), he/she can know for a fact that it is a perfect cube (Plato, 2012, p. 165). Plato's reason occurs in the spiritual world including our souls, rather than the sensual world of our bodies. Plato believed that souls existed in the spiritual world and looked alike before being placed in our physical bodies (Plato, 2012, p. 143); however, when observed in our physical world of the senses, souls can become imperfect or be distorted, causing souls to yearn to return to the spiritual realm of reason (Plato, 2012, p. 184).
For Plato, knowledge of the unchanging is possible only through the world of becoming, the world of the body; however, the soul "recollects" because it resides in the world of the unchanging pure forms. Obviously, attaining knowledge presents a problem because the mind must somehow learn in the ephemeral, distorted world. For Plato, the mind must be trained so it can absorb the unchanging behind the changing; at that point, knowledge is possible. For Plato, in order to acquire knowledge, one must have the name, the definition and the image, in that order. Knowledge is the fourth "thing," and the object itself, the knowable and truly real being, is the fifth "thing" (Plato, 2012, pp. 137-8)
Plato's cave is an allegory for eikasia or "imagining" (Cornford, 1945, p. 222) in which the unenlightened and untrained mind sees shadows rather than real objects but believes the shadows are the reality, and "takes sensible appearances and current moral notions at their face value" (Cornford, 1945, p. 222). The easiest examples of contemporary people living in Plato's cave would be children. Using Plato's analogy of the "divided line," segmented according to 4 stages of cognition (Plato, 2012, p. 119): the untrained mind of the child, seeing only shadows and believing they are reality, is in eikasia; with training about the reality of visible/tangible things, the child is able to attain the stage in which he/she may follow correct morals without real knowledge but through belief, called pistis; through further training in mathematics and moral philosophy, the child may attain a certain level of understanding that is not perfect knowledge, which is thinking or dianoia; finally, through philosophical questions and answer, the mind is trained to deduce the true nature/structure of mathematics and moral knowledge, called episteme (Cornford, 1945, p. 222).
Aristotle disagreed with his teacher, Plato, in that Aristotle believed senses are reliable in searching for the truth: humans form perception based on experience, developing their own concepts of the "original," which may change with further perceptions. His "First Philosophy" is based on the belief that "All human beings by nature desire to know" (Aristotle, 2002, p. 1), and within his reality: the world is compatible with human understanding; there is a "real" link between the world and understanding (Sabol, n.d., p. 39).
Using Aristotle's First Philosophy or Metaphysics, contemporary people may learn about the world by their experiences of the world. For example, a small child's family may have a small dog with spots and when the child learns that this is a dog, he/she may believe that all dogs are small and have spots, which is the child's "original" of "dog." When the child is later exposed to another dog that is also small but does not have spots, this new perception may change the child's "original" to include small dogs without spots and the child may then believe that all dogs are small, with or without spots. When the child later sees a large dog with spots, that new perception may change the child's "original" to include large dogs with spots and the child may then believe that all dogs are either large or small with spots and small without spots. When the child later sees a large dog without spots, this new perception may change the child's "original" to include large dogs without spots and the child may then believe that all dogs can be large or small, with or without spots. In this way, the child's knowledge is constantly expanding by his/her exposure to the world and new perceptions of the world.
In 250 to 500 words, evaluate how you use either or both of the methods in your own life.
Informally, I tend to use Aristotle's First Philosophy, perhaps because it simply started with sense perception as a very small child and feels "organic." As an eternal student, my knowledge of the "original" is altered frequently, possibly many times per day, by new perceptions of the world. For one simple example, as a child, my concept of "family" mirrored my own family; however, as I was exposed to other families through school and friendships, my perception of family expanded as I encountered and perceived families that differed from my own, so that "family" included many more diverse families; furthermore, when I went away to school and beyond, I encountered so many different types of families that my perception of "family" is now very broad; finally, I anticipate that my concept of "family" will be further broadened as I encounter even more types of families throughout the rest of my life. Aristotle's apparently easy acceptance of the real link between the world and understanding make it an easily applied theory in my life.
Plato's method is a more difficult one to apply in my life, unless I use formal education as an example. I certainly identify with the captive in the cave who perceived only shadows. The second stage of pistis was definitely experienced in the early grades of school in which I was taught to follow certain moral codes, believing that they should be followed but without necessarily understanding why they should be followed. That training also came from my family; however, it was far less formal than the pistis that I am imagining. Training in moral philosophy, mathematics and other formal subjects have given me a greater knowledge than I had at the pistis stage but still an imperfect knowledge that could be called dianoia. Finally, I am tempted to say that I have attained some episteme through a…[continue]
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