Subject Philosophy Philosophy - Other


In the Apology, Socrates characterizes wisdom as knowledge of ignorance. In the Meno, Socrates characterizes learning as recollection. Analyze these two characterizations of the human relation to knowledge as they are presented by Socrates. What is the relationship between these two characterizations, and is one more persuasive that the other? Explain.

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At first glance, Socrates’ approach to wise knowing by way of deliberate ignorance and Plato’s theory of learning as recollection seem worlds apart – they could easily be seen to be concerned with radically different things. However, over the course of this brief paper, I will argue that wisdom as knowledge of ignorance and learning as recollection form two distinct yet related parts of a unified picture of the human relation to knowledge. I build my case by first presenting an analysis of Socrates’ position by way of the Apology, followed by similar effort for Plato’s theory by way of Meno’s Paradox of Inquiry and Socrates’ Pythagorean work with Meno’s servant. I conclude by making my case for a bipartite yet unified theory of knowledge.

The Apology, wisdom, and ignorance
It is important to bear in mind the context in which Socrates depicts wisdom as knowledge of ignorance. The Apology is nothing if not the story of a man going down swinging. Socrates is on trial for being a disruptive influence, an agent against the (putative) public good – a charge he hardly denies! Of course, his accusers and the supposed representatives of the public good are, directly or otherwise, the men Socrates showed up and embarrassed in the course of his disruption. How so?...

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