Theaetetus - Book Report/Review Example

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Greek philosopher Plato was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. His philosophical discourses were in the form of dialogues, in the form of questions being asked and answered. In most of Plato’s dialogues the main character is his own teacher, Socrates…
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It tells the reader more about what is not knowledge more than what is knowledge. Thus the dialogue ends inconclusively. Though there is no definite answer to the question posed in the dialogue this work by Plato had been an object of great intellectual fascination among researchers. Though the main emphasis in the dialogue is on the nature of cognition, the work considers a variety of philosophical issues like the Socratic Dialectic, Protagorian Relativism, Heraclitean Flux, rhetorical versus philosophical life and false judgment. One factor in the Theaetetus that baffled all researchers is the picture of the philosopher that Socrates paints out here. The philosopher that Socrates paints out here is in digression. He is a man cut away from worldly things around him, without any interest in the affairs in the city and the people who live there. He is more God like .This concept of the philosophical life is anti-Socratic. The chief concern of Socrates was how the republic can be made beneficial to the people. Of the three characters involved in the dialogue Theaetetus is portrayed as an ugly being. Though physically ugly he is very astute a boy intellectually. The Oxford Classical dictionary informs that Theaetetus was an eminent geometer who lived in Athens (c.415-369 BCE) He is credited with the preposition of the theory of irrational lines in geometry. Theodorus lived in Cyrene in the late fifth century BCE. Plato portrays him as a friend of Protagoras well versed in Sophist teachings but totally unaware of the Socratic Dialectic. In the introduction the reader is informed that Theaetetus, is being carried home dying of wounds and dysentery after a battle near Corinth. Theaetetus’s injury and dying state is informed to the reader by the preface dialogue or just conversation between Terpsion and Euclid. (“Euc. As I was going down to the harbor, I met Theaetetus-he was being carried up to Athens from the army at Corinth. Terp. Was he alive or dead? Euc. He was scarcely alive, for he has been badly wounded; but he was suffering even more from the sickness which has broken out in the army. Terp. The dysentery, you mean? Euc. Yes. Terp. Alas! What a loss he will be!” --, Internet Classic Archive) The dialogues as such are presented as a memoir of Euclid who heard the dialogues between Socrates, Theaetetus and Theodorus. Thus the work is written just after the death of Theaetetus .From this information given in the introduction, most scholars reach the conclusion that the Theaetetus is written around 369 -367 BCE. As mentioned earlier the dialogue examines the question “What is knowledge”? Different answers pop up during the dialogue to this question, which can be broadly summed as the following four. 1) Knowledge is the various Arts and Sciences. 2) Knowledge is perception.3) Knowledge is true judgment.4) Knowledge is true judgment with an “account “or logos. The preposition that knowledge is Arts and sciences comes up when Theaetetus responds to the question of Socrates, “What is knowledge?” by giving different examples of knowledge as arithmetic , harmonics ,astronomy, geometry and even crafts and skills like cobbling and so on. Here Theaetetus is wrongly assuming that the different branches of knowledge are knowledge itself, because the examples he gives are only branches of knowledge and not knowledge itself. Socrates rightly corrects him. He says that there are three defects in his observation, saying that he (Socrates) is Read More
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