So I’ve been reading about Plato’s philosophies lately. As part of our preparation for SAT exam, we are trying to better our reading skills (and become faster readers) through an extensive reading from both literature and philosophy. Since I feel better and much improved when I write about what I am reading, and since I have always understood things better when people have discussed about it in front of me, I am hereby starting a discussion here, not only on Plato and his philosophies, but also on what LitNetters have to say about his approaches to the solution of the problem of the universals. So please be kind and contribute!
The problem with studying anything on Plato’s philosophies is that I go from one thing to another, never remembering where it all started. That way, I lose track on things I have read, and get lost in his theories. It is not easy for me to just pass by these things and touch them and get a hint of what they’re all about. My curiosity (which most definitely kills the cat) leads me from one thing to another and I never get to read anything else other than Plato! Just this evening, for instance, as I was looking through the allegory of the cave, I kept reading that and went from there to his theory of ideas from which I started reading about what “Forms”-- according to Plato—are, before finishing which I started reading about the problem of universals and… after several hours I found myself reading about Parmenides.
One main reason behind such curiosity on Plato is, without doubt, the way the anti-platonic Bertrand Russell plays with the words. (I have been reading his History of Western Philosophy.) Take these paragraphs for instance:
One of the most interesting reads has been about Plato’s Forms. But I still get rather confused about them. May be you people could help a bit? Please chip in some of your thoughts on Plato’s Forms.Consider a man who loves beautiful things, who makes a point of being present at new tragedies, seeing new pictures, and hearing new music. Such a man is not a philosopher, because he loves only beautiful things, whereas the philosopher loves beauty in itself. The man who only loves beautiful things is dreaming, whereas the man who knows absolute beauty is wide awake. The former has only opinion; the latter has knowledge.
What is the difference between ‘knowledge’ and’ opinion’? The man who has knowledge has knowledge of something, that is to say, of something that exists, for what does not exist is nothing. (This is reminiscent of Parmenides.) Thus knowledge is infallible, since it is logically impossible for it to be mistaken. But opinion can be mistaken. How can this be? Opinion cannot be of what is not, for that is impossible; nor of what is, for then it would be knowledge. Therefore opinion must be of what is and is not.
(At Mods: I hope I have posted this in the right place. If I haven’t, by all means move.)