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Platonic epistemology

From Academic Kids

Platonic epistemology holds that knowledge is innate, so that learning is the development of ideas buried deep in the soul, often under the mid-wife-like guidance of an interrogator.

Plato drew a sharp distinction between knowledge which is certain, and mere opinion which is not certain. Opinions derive from the shifting world of sensation; knowledge derives from the world of timeless forms, or essences.

In his best-known dialogue, The Republic, Plato drew an analogy between human sensation and the shadows that pass along the wall of a cave. Prisoners in the cave can view shadows of things outside the cave. Mere opinion is the viewing of the shadows, whereas knowledge is an escape from the cave, into the world of the sun and real objects.

That world is composed of Platonic ideas that are imperfectly perceived. Through philosophical inquiry it was possible to look more closely at the ideal forms, and doing so indicates further correct methods of inquiry and conduct.

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