A Comparison between the Epistemologies of Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas

A Comparison between the Epistemologies of Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas

By Peregrino Blanco, 2011.

Introduction

When we talk about epistemology we talk about knowledge. How do we come to gain knowledge? Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas had very different views on this topic. For this paper: first, both views will be explicated, then a comparison and contrast shall follow, and lastly, a conclusion to summarize the paper and to give a final evaluation shall be presented.

Plato

According to Plato, the only true knowledge that exists is the knowledge of the Forms. His reasoning was that since we can only know the imperfect changing copies that we come into contact with through our ...

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must be knowledge of the universal and abiding."[3]

Our senses can deceive us. Plato argues, "if knowledge is perception, then no man can be wiser than any other man, for each man is the best judge of his own sense perception."[4]

Degrees of Knowledge

Plato's epistemology makes a distinction between opinion and knowledge. There are degrees of knowledge. He illustrated this using the concept of the "divided line." One is to image a horizontal line that separates the world of reason from the world of senses. The bottom portion of this line would refer to the visible world - the world we experience with our senses. According to Plato, knowledge attained here is merely opinion. This portion is further divided by a shorter horizontal line into two further sections: Conjecture and Belief. The lower part of these two is Conjecture. Conjecture refers to "first shadows, then appearances produced in water and in all close-grained, smooth, bright things, and everything of the ...

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But this mental copy can be altered as the thinker may wish. It can be modified, destroyed; all in the realm of the imagination. Above the Understanding we have the Dialectic. This is where the actual Form exists. This is where we would find the actual perfect circle. This is the only source of real knowledge.

Thus knowledge is progressive. Someone may give me a picture of a drawn circle. This drawn circle is Conjecture. They may then give me a piece of paper with the circle drawn on it. This is Belief. I can then imagine a line intersecting a circle. This circle would be in the realm of Understanding. However, through all of these progressions my knowledge about the circle ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/4/2012 02:50:29 PM
Submitted By: peregrinoblanco
Category: Philosophy
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2674
Pages: 10

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