"Plato does not value experience enough" Discuss

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“Plato does not value experience enough,” Discuss. (10)

        Central to Plato's “Theory of Forms” is the belief that the world we see around us, and observe with our senses, is not the true world. He theorised that the abstract world of the Forms, and not the material and physical world we live in, is the highest form of reality. He felt that true knowledge could only be attained through reasoning, and never through experience.

        This would suggest that Plato did not value any experience of the physical world, as he believed that the senses were easily tricked, and so, as shown in his Allegory of the Cave, we could be fooled into thinking that the “Cave” of the physical world, is the ultimate reality.

        Experience is defined as, the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things, generally as they occur in the course of time.This explains why Plato would dismiss experience as either useless or not to be trusted. He did not believe that, as humans, anything we “observe” through use of our senses, could be taken as definite fact, as demonstrated through his allegory.

        Many people however, would argue that with this viewpoint, saying Plato does not value experience enough. They could say that Plato's “Theory of the Forms” limits knowledge to those who can see the forms clearly, and, in essence, makes life meaningless and empty for those who cannot, through constraints of time, money, or intelligence, learn about them.

        They could add that it would be absurd to suggest that experience in the physical world is meaningless, and would point towards how all scientific discoveries of the past, including Andres Vesalius' about human anatomy, Pasteur's about germs and Jenner's about Vaccination,all came about through sensory experience, and have since improved the quality and length of our lives, giving us more time to devote to what Plato would call “The Meaning of Life,” understanding the Form of the Good. Therefore, it could be said that sensory experience is paramount in our efforts to discover the Good, and, it could be said, none more so than in the case of Plato, where it was his experience of the death of Socrates, that drove him to a life of Philosophy and toward the discovery of the Forms.

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        Plato however, would argue that we do not need experience to have knowledge, as we have an understanding, albeit a dim one, of everything, from when our souls were in the realm of the forms, and that we can remember everything from that time, through reason.

        An empiricist would however argue that although Plato says we already know these things, we have to “remember” them through sensory experience, and that, we could not, for example, be kept in isolation from birth with no education or experience of things outside our prison, and released on our 18th birthday and instantly be ...

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