Plato and Rationalism (Rationality)June 29, 2021
Plato, a student of Socrates, argues that there is certain, universal knowledge and that this knowledge is innate.
According to him, since the changing thing cannot be known in any way, there must be some fixed, permanent and unchangeable entities that are independent of the human mind. Because it is not possible to access the information of the variable. It does not stay fixed and is constantly changing, and what was just that thing is no longer that thing. Naturally, information cannot be obtained from the changing. Knowledge is knowledge of the constant. He calls these immutable, fixed and permanent entities “ideas”.
In order to explain Plato’s views on knowledge, it is useful to explain the existence view. Plato divides the existing ones into two and argues that there are two separate worlds: The first is the world of appearances, which we perceive with the five senses, and which consists of concrete beings, in which people live. In this world, which Plato calls the world of appearances or the “world of objects”, an absolute change reigns. Beings in the world of objects cannot be known because they are constantly changing, because anything that changes cannot be known. As a matter of fact, while the beings in the world that we perceive with the five senses are one thing at a certain time, they will be something else at another time. Since this object is constantly changing, it is not possible to reach its correct information and description. Through the five senses, we can only have certain beliefs and opinions about concrete objects.
The second is the world of ideas, where the first examples of beings take place. This world is before and after. Idea immutable essence are the first examples of things. The real reality is the world of ideas. The origin of everything is there. Since the real reality is the ideas, the true knowledge is the knowledge of the ideas. The world of ideas can only be grasped by the mind. The world of objects is a copy, a shadow of the world of ideas. According to Plato, ideas do not change, cannot be seen with the eye, cannot be perceived by the senses. But they can be known through reason. Our knowledge of ideas is also innate and is in our minds at birth.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook