In his middle-period dialogues, Plato developed his idiosyncratic theory of knowledge, which he began in the Meno and continued in the Phaedo and Theaetetus. Plato contextualizes certain words in his philosophy, such as “knowledge.” His epistemology presents a knowledge empiricist perspective. The most exorbitant realms of consciousness, according to the philosopher, are the source of knowledge. Furthermore, the human mind is incapable of producing wisdom, preferring instead to recall long-forgotten memories. The ideal plane is the source of knowledge, which consists of a higher domain that houses all representatives of perfection and virtue who serve as guides for everyone in the physical sphere. For some individuals, it is easier to identify truth, beauty, and moral virtues than others because human beings experience different measures of consciousness. Everyone is born possessing an innate knowledge of the perfect world and education and the arts act as a reminder of human origin and experiences of past lives so that the individual can achieve perfection.
Plato makes a description of the doctrine of recollection in the Meno. He indicates that if the soul is the genesis of all truth, it is immortal. The best solution is to be cheerful and make an effort to recollect that which is not known or preferably that which one cannot recall. He talks about a young boy who can validate some geometrical deductions without any education. Thus, the sensory experience profoundly determines the recollection of the knowledge of the Forms. The soul cannot leave the body when a person is alive, and the easiest way to achieve memory is by having imitations in the physical world. The Meno bridges the Socratic and the middle period dialogues. It has three parts where the first deals with ethical questions and the last two sections concentrate on the epistemology that virtue is knowledge. It is in the Meno that Plato makes the initial mention of recollection and he indicates that knowledge consists of beliefs that are true and are connected to an account.
The Phaedo proposes that everything that is recollected must have been learned and it is only possible because the soul had existed before taking the human form. Plato introduces the theory of forms for a complete epistemological outline. The Phaedo is not an improvement of the Meno despite having difficulties, but it is the basis upon which he constructs the epistemology of the Phaedo. There are three stages of knowledge which include the first where the pure soul consorts with the forms. The second that occurs where the soul enters the body and forgets all despite that on stimulation it could gain a recollection but because of the disturbance of the body, it is almost impossible to regain knowledge. The third stage is that if a person chooses to practice death during his lifetime, they can rid the influence of the body so that the soul regains knowledge. The problems of the outline of Plato’s philosophy are still present but he tries to solve some of the issues. The definition of knowledge is still limited as he insists that the only way to get knowledge is in the universe of Forms. The primary focus of the Phaedo is the immortality of the soul, and the nature of knowledge is still not defined until the Theaetetus.
The Theaetetus identifies three meanings of knowledge as perception, as true opinion, and as true opinion combined with an account. In the Theaetetus, Plato introduces new epistemological theories and ideas which help solve some of the problems in the outline of the epistemology and others make some of the theories in the Meno and Phaedo much clear. He gives an illustration with an example of the color white which provides more insight on how the soul relates to the forms in the gaining of knowledge. Necessarily, the ideas in the Theaetetus are descriptions of the happenings of the soul in the world of Forms. He uses the analogy of the color white, the analogy of the wax block and the analogy of the aviary to explain how a person comes to achieve knowledge in the sensible world and the region of Forms.
The theory of recollection by Plato is inapplicable for some reasons. For the approach to be able to solve the paradox of inquiry as presented in the Meno, Socrates must prove that the young boy is making a recollection of opinions that are true as opposed to acquiring new knowledge out of general reasoning. Plato should have shown that the truths that were arrived at were truths that had been learned but forgotten. Secondly, Plato speaks of a recollection through the notion of the soul which is immortal and gives knowledge. If an individual solves a problem, they have no experience it is reasonable to conclude that they are relearning something already learned. Thirdly, the knowledge in the reasoning Socrates offers is circular. The soul that accords a person with knowledge is more of a possibility as expressed by Socrates because he derives the idea of the soul from the example of the young slave boy who makes his claims circular.
Machiavelli’s Perspective on Freedom (Liberty)
Niccolo Machiavelli was among the most controversial political thinkers of his time. He explores the possibility of acquiring freedom and how it can be guaranteed after that. The texts by Machiavelli explain liberty in the sense of the failure of the government to infringe a person’s rights and rightful property. In the republican view, liberty is a collective good. A state can only achieve independence if its citizenry can arm themselves thereby collectively defending their freedom. In The Discourses he gives two explanations for the origin of cities where like Venice, a city emerges without a prince or any particular person who comes up with a constitution and the law that governs the people is that which seems appropriate. In the second explanation, he mentions a genti forestiere or a foreign predatory group that takes a territory captive and comes up with a city that is not free and has minimal chances of becoming great such as cities like Florence which had fallen under the Roman rule. Machiavelli explains the possibility of acquiring political freedom in the context that lacks the link between command and obedience.
The Prince acts as precepts which aid the ruler to retain power. The local predators and foreign attackers had huge armies, and Machiavelli proposed ways to preserve some level of freedom from aggression by political power. The ruler had predatory habits aimed at the people such as failing to respect people’s property rights and restraining taxation. Taxation is a deprivation of the citizenry of the fruits of their labor. In the Prince, Machiavelli redefines liberality and explains that a prince is not generous, but instead, they are robbing the city so that he can accord gifts to the elite. The populace will end up despising him because he will eventually be impoverished. Nonetheless, a ruler who refuses to participate in the standard practice is referred to as stingy or misero. However, he will be labeled as a liberal since he is generous to everyone. He further suggests that a ruler should keep off from the property of others because people tend to forget a father’s death faster than the loss of patrimony. Kingship has no right to infringe on human freedom. Monarchies and republics have the most significant potential to achieve internal freedom. A regime that offers its people freedom may achieve stability in the long run. Most of the populace will demand freedom from their rulers so that they can feel secure.
The ideologies presented by Machiavelli have formed the basis for the clash of various political thought. Consequently, scholars have established that there is a necessity to draw a new approach to understanding the philosopher’s ideologies through an analysis that is textual and contextual. Machiavelli makes various definitions of freedom which are all precise. Multiple scholars give different explanations of liberty as presented by the texts written by Machiavelli. Issues of freedom are presented in The Prince and The Discourses. The most prominent interpretation of Machiavellian text focuses on the ‘libertas’ concept which relates to republicanism. Machiavelli connects libertà with various benefits and rights that are present in free nations irrespective of their constitutions.