Sep 19, 2009


Hi Andrew,
That's an excellent summary of the main themes! Good stuff. On the matter of innateness, you're right, and that's something we'll bring up next time; you've certainly got a terrific handle on the issues.
All the best,

On Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 3:02 PM, Andrew Burrows <> wrote:
Dear Professor Smith/Mark,

My name is Andrew Burrows, I'm in your Fundamental Questions course this year, and I did not have time today to clarify with you, today's lecture, thus I am e-mailing you now. I was wondering if you would be able to give me some feedback concerning what I learned today in class, and whether or not I have some of the details correct or not. I did take philosophy in grade 12 and did find that taking in last year benefited me today, so I also thank you for clarifying some things that my 12th grade teacher did not explain fully:

How is one to convert a true belief into knowledge? Plato believed that in order for one to do this, you were to justify your true belief, and this, is knowledge. If you believe something for the sake of believing it, or simply do not have valid points to back your belief up (a justification), you belief is invalid, and is indeed, not knowledge. With this, to justify your belief, is knowledge.

Plato believed that we were not to rely on our 5 senses for gaining knowledge in our lives and making sense of the world in which we live. This is because they are deceptive, and are not valid justifications for our true beliefs. Thus, our senses do not lead us to knowledge. Since everything in the physical world is in a constant state of flux and is forever changing (such as our bodies or nature, the river that you mentioned), we can never fully grasp an understanding of these physical things, through our senses, because they are always "one step ahead." We can not reach further than our reach, in a sense. Since the physical world is, again, not stable, where full knowledge is, attempting to gain knowledge through the use of our senses will fail us.

Concerning ideal forms, Plato believed that they existed. The forms were uncreated, are eternal, definitely exist and are true. He believed there was an ideal world of the Forms, where things such as perfect (or "absolute") right angle triangles existed. They were not created, as I said, and will forever exist. They will do so because they are not physical, and do not deteriorate. The physical world does not play any role in the existence of these ideal forms because they are two different aspects of life, in a sense. They never overlap. Plato's belief of the ideal world is not to be mistaken for the "Platonic heaven," or for religious at all, for that matter. The forms just exist, and that's all there is to it.

Back to knowledge, full knowledge, we have it innately, or intuitively. (Question: am I correct? How do we come to this actualization that we have this full knowledge, or do we just have to 100% feel it/"know" it, and know that it has always existed somewhere inside/within us?)

Plato doesn't suggest ridding our senses, he only senses we rid them if we want to grasp a full understanding of the world, through knowledge. Using senses only gives us approximations of the world, where using our knowledge/rationality gives us not approximations of the world, but full understandings/knowledge of it. To sum up, our senses fail us in the quest for knowledge, where in order to gain this full understanding, we are to rely fully on this innate knowledge that has always existed within us.

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