How Can We Know Ideas?June 27, 2021
In order to solve the main problem of knowledge, to overcome the relativism of the Sophists, among other problems, Plato mentions three different types of knowledge or relations when it comes to knowing the Ideas, which he asserts as the eternal and universal objects of knowledge.
The first of these is the famous doctrine of recollection, which states that true knowledge is a priori knowledge of essences or universals independent of experience. Here, Plato refers to the old thesis that “like knows like”, inherited from the Presocratics; he interprets this thesis by establishing a relationship of similarity or affinity between the soul and the Ideas and thus inferring that the soul can know the Ideas. The fact that there is a close relationship between knowledge and reality, especially with the ontological dependence of knowledge, is a very understandable thing for Plato. But if the soul does not have a similar nature to what it knows in itself, such a relationship can never be established, and the result will be an absolute Septicism that places insurmountable barriers between reality, knowledge and language. At this point, Plato, the characteristics of the Ideas, like them, are eternal, simple, indivisible, unchangeable, etc. suggests that the soul, which is the soul, met the Ideas in its existence before coming to this world. Then, when it enters a body and emerges in the world, the knowledge of the soul, which forgets this information, consists of remembering the essences that it has grasped in its previous existence.
The second way to reach the knowledge of ideas or essences is dialectic; in other words, the human mind reaches the knowledge of the Ideas through dialectics; Dialectics, on the other hand, is undoubtedly the power to abstract the essence of things and to discover the relationships between the various branches of knowledge. By discovering the relationships between the Ideas through dialectics, one gains access to universal and compulsory knowledge. The third way of attaining the necessary knowledge of the Ides is love; Thanks to eros, one ascends first from beautiful objects or persons to beautiful thoughts and finally to Beauty itself, the Idea of Beauty.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook