Plato's Theory of Knowledge

2524 Words Jun 17th, 2011 11 Pages
Plato's Theory of Knowledge

What appears to be so to me is true for me, and what appears to be so to you is true for you. It follows that everyone’s perceptions are equally true. This of course is the extreme form of relativism that Protagoras claims when he asserts that man is the measure of all things in regards to truth. It seems that if all perceptions (e.g. judgments and beliefs) are equally true, there can be no room for expertise. But what is Protagoras to say of our natural inclination that such things as wisdom and the wise really do exist among individuals? If Protagoras’ relativism is to be accepted, he must explain how expertise is possible. Protagoras does not deny that some men are wiser than others, but he disagrees that
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In this picture we do not say that the new state of mind (healthy Socrates) once the drugs have been administered is truer or wiser than the original state of mind (sick Socrates), rather we say it is better. It is our common misconception of equating good states with true things, rather than equating good states as better (not truer); as Socrates puts it in behalf of Protagoras, “…The [good] things which appear to [one] are what some people, who are still at a primitive stage, call ‘true’; my position however, is that the one kind are better than the others, but in no way truer” (167b). It seems that we are able to allow expertise in light of the Measure Doctrine simply by arguing that the doctor’s wisdom does not have any command of objective truth, rather what he is doing is simply affecting change for the better or good with respect to the perceiver. This is controversial, and we will see why later when Socrates brings up the kind of role expertise plays in emergency situations and judgments about the future. But for now, we will look at another example that is meant to bolster Protagoras’ defense.

The wise politician is said to be the one who affects change by making wholesome things seem just and instead of pernicious. “Whatever in any city is regarded as just and admirable is just and admirable,
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