Knowledge and Plato

Essay by irbazkhanumtCollege, Undergraduate August 2011

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Knowledge and Plato

Knowing is always the apprehension of an object which is other than the knowledge of it, and it is the apprehension of that object as it really is. Such knowledge may, for various reasons, be beyond the reach of you, or me, or of all mankind, but it is still true that to knowledge which really is what we mean by knowledge, to the knowledge of God for example, the whole scheme of reality would be transparent; there are limits to your knowledge, or to mine, but no limits to knowledge itself, no ground of knowledge itself impenetrable to mind. If there seems to be anything in the universe which is, in its own nature, incapable of being known through and through, we may be sure that this seeming reality is not truly existent, but is mere seeming.

Plato is to re-interpret the forms as eternal objects.

Eternal objects exist only as possibilities, until they become concrete through ingression into an occasion in space and time. As purely possible, such abstract entities have no value; apart from three limiting conditions, they stand to each other in all logically possible relations--a sharp contrast with Plato's notion of the determinate order of his world of form (in the strictest senses of form). In a restless universe, where novelty is part of the creative advance of life and nature, Whitehead insists that objective, actual forms would be a strait-jacket that does not fit in with what we actually experience. This has the corollary that ethical decisions cannot be made by reference to objective norms, but must depend on individual sensitivity to the choices which will, and those which will not, create more harmony and value. Such sensitivity is hard to appraise objectively, and whether it can be taught or...