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Deductive Argument Essay

In this essay I will be arguing against Plato’s theory of knowledge given in the Republic’s divided line. I will distinguish the differences and similarities in the epistemological concepts of Plato and Aristotle intending to explain how one comes to have knowledge and the process through which it’s obtained. As support, I will explain Plato’s theory of forms and Aristotle’s theory of essence because they are a direct correlation to their view of knowledge through reality. Plato’s theory of Forms is a theory of knowledge and a theory of being.

He describes, in the divided line, the division of existence. Plato believes the source of our knowledge is separate from this world. Participation connects us to this world. In the divided line he separates the visible and the intelligible or becoming and being. The top half is knowledge and the bottom half as opinion. The bottom half represent the lesser of reality, which includes perception and imagination, along with physical objects and shadows. The upper half includes metaphysics, higher forms, mathematical forms, epistemology, understanding and thinking.

His theory of Forms involves images, sensible objects, concrete forms and abstract forms. Images are the lowest form of knowledge. Images only provide us with opinion and imagination. Sensible objects comes next which provides us with seeing something and having a belief about it by sensing it and perceiving it. Concrete forms allow us understanding, meaning we understand the parts of X by thinking. Finally, the highest form is the abstract form which is the most essential ‘pure thought’ of what X is.

To Plato, this Essence is eternal and unchanging, making it necessary and true. According to Plato we know X, if and only if we have a direct grasp of X’s form or essence. Let’s break this argument down. So Imagination is a state of mind which takes sensible moral notions at face value just as it does sensible appearances or forms of the world at face value. For example, if you are viewing a palm tree you are using your imagination and Plato says is our opinion about what we are viewing, a palm tree. So imagination is perception and not knowledge.

If A (Imagination is taking sensible notions and appearances or forms of the world at face value) then B (imagination is perception). A? B A ?B Using our common sense we have belief in the reality of the visible objects and concrete moral teachings (sufficient guide for action) without knowledge of the reason for such beliefs. Belief is faith and conviction, not knowledge. If C (Using our common sense we have belief in the reality of the visible objects and concrete moral teachings (sufficient guide for action) without knowledge of the reason for such beliefs) then D (belief is faith and conviction).

C ? D C ?D If A (Imagination is taking sensible notions and appearances or forms of the world at face value), B (Imagination is perception), C (Using our common sense we have belief in the reality of the visible objects and concrete moral teachings (Sufficient guide for action) and D (Belief is faith and conviction), then E (Belief and imagination are opinion and not knowledge). A B C D ? E A B C D ?E Thinking is reasoning from premise to conclusion.

This reasoning is the bridge from opinion to knowledge that is brought on by higher education, especially mathematics because pure mathematics and applied mathematics are tools used to understand X. Therefore, thinking is only understanding, not knowledge. So if F(thinking is reasoning from premise to conclusion and uses tools to gain understanding) then G(thinking is understanding). F? G F ?G From the “Good” or Episteme comes from intellect which consist of reason and dialect. This comes from philosophic conversation (dialect) by question and answer seeking (reasoning) an “account” of X.

Therefore, knowledge or Episteme is the form of the ‘good’. So, If H (knowledge comes from philosophic conversation (dialect) by question and answer seeking (reasoning) an “account” of X) then I (we have knowledge or Episteme and the form of the ‘good’) H ? I H ?I If F (thinking is reasoning from premise to conclusion and uses tools to gain understanding), G (thinking is understanding), H (knowledge comes from philosophic conversation (dialect) by question and answer seeking (reasoning) an “account” of X) then I (we have knowledge or Episteme and the form of the ‘good’).

F G H ? I FGH ?I Aristotle has similar concepts as Plato on knowledge that is best describes through his theory of Essence. He argues that scientific knowledge is the highest form of knowledge and is only concerned with this world and not a transcendent world like Plato. His forms include appearance, matter, concrete forms and abstract forms. He explains that we gain knowledge first through our senses and are able to view appearances. Using the senses activates our imagination that gives us opinion. After appearance is matter.

When we engage in experience we come to know matter and by doing so we have belief. Similar to Plato, Aristotle claims concrete forms come next by knowing abstraction or the classification of X which provides us with understanding. And finally he agrees with Plato in that Abstract form is what makes X, X. By intellectually grasping the essence of X we have knowledge. Aristotle defines essence as the sense on matter and form. Matter is material and form is eternal. Appearances are imagination and imagination perceives only through the senses.

Here Aristotle is in agreement with Plato in that if A (Imagination is a state of mind which takes sensible moral notions at face value just as it sensible appearances or forms of the world at face value) then B (imagination is perception). A? B A ?B Matter gives us belief because If C (Using our common sense we have belief in the reality of the visible objects and concrete moral teachings (sufficient guide for action) without knowledge of the reason for such beliefs) then D (belief is faith and conviction). C? D C ?D.

The classification or abstraction of what distinguishes X over a different X is understanding. For example, to know what makes a palm tree, a palm tree and a coconut tree, a coconut tree. Therefore, thinking is understanding. So if F (thinking is reasoning from premise to conclusion and uses tools to gain understanding) then G (thinking is understanding). F ? G F ?G Plato argues knowledge comes from a ‘final good’ or “Goodness”, which is the level above scientific understanding to which the human mind is capable in rising. This rising to a higher level is called Episteme.

He says that there is only one form (idea) of everything that only exists in the ‘thought universe’ or the ‘mind of the creator’. This intellectual truth is truer than physical truth. Aristotle on the other hand argues that knowledge come from the human essence tilos or rationality. So, knowledge is reaching rational activity excellently and scientific knowledge is the end of it. They both agree on essence being eternal and unchanging. They may separate from the matter, recycle and get involved with other matter but the forms are eternal and unchanging.

I agree with Aristotle because Plato confuses the human ability of abstraction with independent existence. As humans we can generalize and find common features in separate objects such as red things but that does not mean that there exists somewhere something called redness. He is attempting to explain reality with the addition of a transcendent world. Aristotle is interested in explaining the world as a changing world; Plato’s forms do not change so they cannot help in explaining the phenomena of change in the empirical world. According to Aristotle, we do not acquire knowledge all in one moment but rather through a process.

He says objects of real existence are the ones that we encounter through our sense perception, known as his theory of empiricism (which is too much to go further into) in this he argues again that all knowledge originates from experience. This contradicts Plato’s two world theory. I found it very hard to illustrate both views of knowledge because the extensive information they use to explain it so I broke it down in the way I understood it. In the end, I found myself becoming my own philosopher in researching the works of such great minds.

I feel these arguments create the rationality that people forget to practice when it’s the one thing that separates us as humans. Works Cited <Puanthanh Gangmei, Plato’s theory of knowledge and forms (www. blogcastor. com: October 16, 2011): http://blogcastor. com/plato%e2%80%99s-theory-of-knowledge-and-forms/, November 22 2011. > <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Epistemology> <http://faculty. washington. edu/smcohen/320/thforms. htm> <http://www. filthylucre. com/plato-versus-aristotle-theory-of-forms-and-causes> <http://www. iep. utm. edu/aristotl/> <http://www. iep. utm. edu/aristotl/> <http://www. iep. utm. edu/middlekn/>


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