Plato, Sir Francis Bacon, and Albert Camus: What is knowledge?
2240 Words9 Pages
Knowledge, that certain indescribable thing that everyone thinks they have a little bit of, is an elusive concept that nearly every philosopher from ancient Greece to the modern day has given at least a nod to. How, after all, can we know that we are right in something if we don't know what knowing is? This question, and the sometimes futile attempt to answer it, is called epistemology. More specifically, it is the study of how we know and what that knowledge actually is. Is knowledge objective, subjective, something else, or even possible?
In ancient Greece, a group of men who came to be known as the Sophists sold their
“knowledge” without ever believing absolute knowledge was possible. According to them, the only things that could be known were skills that were subjective to the user. Skepticism of this variety was encountered by one of the great minds of philosophy, Socrates, who spent much of his life, as we know it through Plato, arguing against sophism and its many forms in his pursuit of attempting to actually discover what could be known and if anyone actually did know anything. Knowledge, to Socrates, was a thing called arete' or virtue, and the only thing Socrates knew was that he knew nothing which made him, ironically, the most knowledgeable man in
Athens, at least if one is to believe his account of visiting the Oracle at Delphi. Whether Socrates was ever successful in establishing what knowledge is or is not is arguable, but his pupil and follower, Plato, takes up Socrates' cause in The Republic and, with a combination of Socrates' ideas and some of his own, attempts to show in “The Allegory of the Cave” what different kinds of knowledge are possible and how we come about them.
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...des a journey of discovery for me to approach a sun, if not the sun. Like they have, I started with
something, a desire, and, being freed from my chains, I painstakingly made my way through my own cave in search of whatever I could call real. Whether or not there is a universal real becomes unimportant because at the end of the day, it's all about the seemingly unending journey itself and, like Camus, an appreciation that the journey is mine to make what I will of it.
Neuleib, Janice, Kathleen Shine Cain, and Stephen Ruffus, eds. The Mercury Reader: Advancing Composition, English 103. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.
Bacon, Francis.“Of Studies.”Neuleib, Cain, and Ruffus 7-10.
Camus, Albert. “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Neulieb, Cain, and Ruffus 11-15.
Plato. “The Allegory of the Cave.” Neulieb, Cain, and Ruffus 1-6.