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Plato – Knowledge vs. True Belief

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    The discussion of true belief and knowledge in the Meno develops in the analogy of the traveling men; one who knows the correct path to Larissa and the other who has a true belief of the correct path to Larissa (Meno 97a-c). Socrates tells Meno that if both men led to the same result, then true belief is no more useful than knowledge and both beneficial (Meno 97c). This comparison changes in book five of the Republic when Socrates says an ideal state must have a philosopher-king as a ruler (Republic 473d-e).

    Socrates and Glaucon conclude that knowledge and true belief are different powers so their natures cannot be the same (Republic 477c-478a). Knowledge is the most effective power, while true belief is only what enables you to believe. I think the most important part of the Meno in regards to knowledge and true belief is the passage of the Daedalus statue (Meno 98a). With this analogy Socrates is also able to show in book five of the Republic how true belief is worth less than knowledge.

    By having the statue tied down, it will not go anywhere and you may always rely on it being there for you to admire (i. e. knowledge). By not having the statue tied down, you will not have the security that it will always remain for you to enjoy (i. e. true belief). This shows that possessing knowledge will never leave you, raising its value over true belief. It is in book five of the Republic; Socrates first introduces the idea of forms and essences. Socrates tries to establish that one must possess the passion or love for the whole subject (i. . learning), and not just particular parts within (i. e. art, languages, writing…etc). Socrates uses the example with Glaucon and his love of teenage boys. He loves all that is part of the teenage boy, and does not differ throughout (Republic 474d-e).

    This is what encapsulates an essence; it is the passion for the whole subject itself, through objects of knowledge. Conversely, Socrates explains to Glaucon that a person who is only passionate in particular parts of the subject (i. e. olors, sounds, or shapes) does maintain the essence, and is only infatuated with their own true beliefs, which are called objects of belief (Republic 476b). Socrates then introduces the discussion of “what is completely,” “what is and what is not,” and “what is not completely,” (Republic 477a, 478a-478c). Knowledge is to know something that exists (i. e. object of knowledge). While objects of belief consists of what does exist and does not exist. This shows how knowledge is infallible and true belief is fallible.

    Knowledge is eternal and does not change or go anywhere, and true belief is the opposite. It is a similar reference that Socrates speaks about in the Meno, specifically on the example of the Daedalus statue (Meno 98a). Having the statue tied down ensures its eternal presence. It is always there in the soul and never wrong. While not having the statue tied down conveys true belief. When the statue is there it serves as a benefit to man, it is what exists. Since you cannot be guarantee the statue will remain, the departure of the statue explains how belief will change over time.

    This is what will change belief to what does not exist. The meaning for the particular will change, indicating it is not eternal. One consistency in both texts of the Meno (Meno 99c) and Republic (Republic 472d) is that people who use true belief cannot show or explain how their belief is the truth. I believe this is one of the largest distinctions between knowledge and true belief. Knowledge is eternal and never changing, you may always recall to it with objects of knowledge. True belief will use object of belief as rational, they are not eternal and will change with time.

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    Plato – Knowledge vs. True Belief. (2017, Mar 18). Retrieved from

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    What is Plato's theory of true knowledge?
    Plato has assumed from the outset that knowledge is attainable, and that knowledge must be (i) infallible and (ii) of the real. True knowledge must possess both these characteristics, and any state of mind that cannot vindicate its claim to both these characteristics cannot be true knowledge.
    Why does Plato believe knowledge is better than true belief?
    Plato's own solution was that knowledge is formed in a special way distinguishing it from belief: knowledge, unlike belief, must be 'tied down' to the truth, like the mythical tethered statues of Daedalus. As a result, knowledge is better suited to guide action.

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