Presentation on theme: "The simile of the ship illustrates why the best philosophers are useless."— Presentation transcript:
The simile of the ship illustrates why the best philosophers are useless
Why are many philosophers vicious? A person with a philosophical bent has a lot of talent. But this talent must be nurtured, educated in the right way. A talented, intelligent person, a philosopher who is corrupted will turn out to be very, very bad.
The city and the sophists Sophists were traveling teachers, educators. Many Athenians thought the sophists corrupted the youth. Socrates: its the whole city that corrupts the youth, not the sophists
All the sophists do, is help people learn how best to determine what the majority of people think, what the conventional wisdom is and use it to their advantage.
The Theory of Forms The objects of belief are sensible things The objects of knowledge are not sensedthey are grasped by the mind Plato calls these objects of knowledge Forms But what are forms? And why should we think that there are such things?
Each of us can use a universal term and use it to apply to different particular things. Tree Human being circle just, courage are all examples of these general terms. But why do we group individual things together in this way?
One answer: Nominalism A nominalist claims that generality is simply a function of language. We have certain linguistic conventions, and these conventions tell us that the word Tree applies to x, y, z, d,. There is no generality in the world, there are only general terms (words that apply to more than one thing)
A problem with nominalism If generality is just found in language, and not in the world, then our application of general terms would have to be arbitrary. But its not arbitrary. The blue ball is called blue for a reason. (its blue)
Another answer: moderate realism A moderate realist about universals believes that there are universal characteristics (like being blue) which exist in more than one thing (thats why they are called Universalsthey dont stay put in one thing, but can exist in many different things.
Plato is not happy with moderate realism If moderate realism were the case, then the meaning of our general words would be found in the sensible world. But its not. Consider equality: we all know what it is for two line segments to be exactly equal in length. But we cannot actually draw such line segments. Likewise with circles, beauty, justice, goodness, the physical world falls short of what is meant by our universal terms.
Sensible things are grouped the way they are because they resemble, participate in a form. All dogs resemble the dog form, all trees resemble the tree form. Only the form, is pure and unqualified. The physical dogs and trees are imperfect copies of the idea form Treeness or doghood
When I see a beautiful person, I dont see beauty, but that person is beautiful because they resemble beauty, they resemble the form. Knowledge, what philosophers seek, is the grasping, the understanding of these forms Belief, again, refers to the sensible things, the imperfect copies of the forms.