Why Plato Says Recollection Essay

1571 words - 7 pages

Usually, when we are learning something, we achieve a state of understanding by learning something we consider we do not know. However, this common-sense contains a very irrational factors if we think one more step. That is, if a person have no idea of something exists, then for this person, that kind of things does not exist, hence the person will not emerges a desire to acquire that kind of things, and cannot behave like discovering or learning. If a person emerges a desire for something, that person must already know it in past in some way. Only in this way, it will make sense.
However, when people are learning something, in common-sense is to learn, to discover things that they do not know, in other words, because they do not know, they precisely need to learn. But how to learn, to discover something we do not know? People are learning or discovering, but they do not know what they are learning or discovering, this is impossible. And then again, if people already know what they are discovering or learning, there is no need for them to learn or discover. In this way, people either know or do not know what they are learning or discovering, learning and discovering are impossible or unnecessary. The essential start point that Plato proposes “recollection” in Meno is to refute this argument about learning and discovering problem that exists logical dilemma. In other words, through “recollection” Plato reveals that there is a cognitive state between “know” and “do not know”, named “forget”, to solve this logical dilemma. Briefly, people currently forget things that they already know in the past, then through learning, they can recollect knowledge about that kind of things, this is so called learning. Therefore the meaning of learning is not knowing something people do not know completely, but something they already forget. Thus, Plato says “a process men call learning—discovering everything else for himself, if he is brave and does not tire of the search, for searching and learning are, as a whole, recollection.” (Plato, Meno p71, 81d)
The purpose Plato mentions “recollection” is to solve the logical dilemma about discovering, but its essential intention is to reveal the meaning of Socrates’s pursuit of true knowledge. Such as, in Meno, the discussion between Socrates and Meno about virtue is the most representative example of Socrates’s pursuit of true knowledge.
In Meno, it begins discussion with the question “can virtue be taught?” Meno confidently cited what a man’s virtue is, what a woman’s virtue is, and even a child’s and elder’s virtue, when Socrates asks “what virtue is”. However, the answer that Meno consists he knows about virtue, is only a part of virtue’s properties. It is obviously just answering “how virtue is”, does not meet Socrates’s requirement for “what virtue is”. Because men’s virtue, women’s virtue, children’s virtue and elders’ virtue are examples of virtue, in other words, they are the form of virtue limited to a...

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