Epistemology in the tradition of Western philosophy is marked by a tendency to understand knowledge as “seeing the truth.” This metaphor of “knowledge as sight” traces its root to the epistemological program of Plato. In Plato’s metaphysics, true reality exists in the transcendent realm of the perfect, intelligible forms. The world as perceived by the senses is an imperfect, defective realm constantly in flux of which there can never be knowledge. For the soul to attain knowledge, it must transcend the corporeal world and merely “look” at the perfect forms. In this presentation, I will use the third critique of the forms in the Parmenides to demonstrate how Plato’s use of the “knowledge as sight” metaphor implicates his epistemology in an insurmountable logical difficulty. Next, I will show how a solution to this logical difficulty is evidenced in numerous passages in his dialogues, but is never developed because it would necessitate an abandonment of his theory of forms. Finally, I will end my presentation by analyzing this solution’s development in the epistemology of the 20th century Thomist Bernard F. Lonergan.
Dr. Arvin Vos
Smith, Corey A., "An Analysis of the Third Objection to the Forms in Plato's "Parmenides"" (2008). Student Research Conference Select Presentations. Paper 11.