Michael Daniel Dr.

Begres Honors Core 101 August 30, 2006 In Plato’s dialogue ‘Knowledge is Something More Than Belief” Socrates and Theaetetus try to define knowledge. They try out many different definitions and finally come to the conclusion that they can not define knowledge. Humility is the moral of this piece. The book seems to begin in the middle of an ongoing conversation. The only two actors with lines are Socrates and Theaetetus but reference is made at the beginning and at the end to a character named Theodorus. The references are of such a nature that makes me think that Theodorus must be present, as Socrates directly speaks to him at the end in order to make arrangements to meet the next day and continue the conversation. The excerpt begins when Socrates asks Theaetetus what knowledge is. Theatetus responds with examples of knowledge. Socrates clarifies the question for Theaetetus, who responds that knowledge is true belief. True belief in this case seems to refer to belief in that which is true, not a strongly held personal conviction. Socrates counters that lawyers and orators make a living by making people believe certain things. A juror can not know what really happened but based on the hearsay of an eyewitness they can come to a correct verdict. They reach this verdict thru true belief but they lack knowledge, therefore, Theaetetus’s definition must be incorrect. Theaetetus offers that he heard somewhere that knowledge is true belief plus an account. If you have true belief in something and can give account of it then you know it

and the thing is ‘knowable’. If you believe without being able to give account for it then the thing is not ‘knowable’. Socrates says that he heard somewhere that elements can not be known because no account can be given of them because you can not describe elements by anything more than by their name. A complex thing can be described by the elements which comprise it, which makes it knowable. Theaetetus agrees and the rest of the dialogue is Socrates attacking the idea. Socrates says that there are 3 ways of giving an account for something: Describing it thru speech, describing it’s linguistic, and/or chemical elements, and lastly describing the thing that makes it unique. Describing something does not make it knowable because then everything would be knowable, even the elements. If this was an account then any true belief would be knowledge because any true belief can be described and we know that knowledge is more than true belief. Describing the elements of a thing does not make it known because a thing is more than the sum of it’s parts. Describing the thing that makes something it unique almost works but that leads to the definition that “knowledge is correct belief together with knowledge of differentness”. This statement is recursive so it is obviously false. The conclusion is that they do not know what knowledge is and Socrates tells Theatetus that he should be more humble when speaking from now on because Theatetus can not know anything if he can’t define knowledge.