Hume vs. Plato on Knowledge: A Comparative Analysis

1541 Words Jan 12th, 2018 6 Pages
Plato on Knowledge
Introduction
Plato's ideas on knowledge represent, perhaps, the most foundational and influential attempt to establish the boundaries of what can be known. His ideas have had an immense influence on successive philosophers as well as Western Civilization as a whole. David Hume, who came over two millennia after Plato, represents perhaps the most relevant attempt to establish the boundaries of what can be known.
Thesis: According to Hume's position on ideas and causation, the existence of Plato's Forms and Knowledge cannot be proved because they cannot be observed. The reason they cannot be observed is that they are novel, never having been glimpsed, and would be unrecognizable to any observer.
Plato's Theory of Knowledge
Plato's Theory of Forms
Plato's realist views on knowledge are grounded in his theory of Forms. This theory posited that each material object in the world was a pallid imitation of a perfect ideal form. (Phaedo, 73a 74b). This means that the material world, known to us through sense-perception, is not the real world, but a world of imitations. (Republic, 507c-509b). The real world, rather, consists of abstract, yet solid forms. Plato establishes his view as Realist here because he does believe that there is a real world that not only exists independent of our experience, but is actually obscured by it.
The Allegory of the Cave
Plato's views on Forms, Ideas, and Knowledge are all expressed beautifully in the allegory of…
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