Plato's Problem - Implications


Having discussed Plato's philosophy, linguistics, perception, and some cognitive structures, various implications that arise from the research and theorizing can be touched on. The debate surrounding how to define knowledge goes back to the origin of humanity. In historical philosophy, the debate has been between rationalism and empiricism. In contemporary psychology, the debate is between biology (nature) and environment (nurture).

Rationalism is a philosophical and epistemological perspective on knowledge that claims, at its most extreme, that reason is the only dependable source of knowledge; moreover, rationalists assert that a priori knowledge is the most effective foundation for knowledge . Empiricism, on the other hand, argues that no knowledge exists prior to experience; therefore, all knowledge, as well as thought, comes from experience. The nature vs. nurture debate is not identical, yet one can detect the similarities, or parallels, to the rationalism vs. empiricism debate. Those who claim that thought and behavior result from nature say the cause is genetic predisposition while those who argue for environment say that thought and behavior are caused by learning, parenting, and socialization.

In contemporary philosophical, linguistic, and psychological circles, it is rare that anyone maintains an unwavering stance on either of these extremes, most fall toward the middle. For many, the ideas of "nature and nurture" or "innateness and environmental input" are no longer perceived as mutually exclusive. For those who research such topics, much points to a necessarily interactive relationship in order for thought and behavior to occur.

In Plato's philosophy, innate ideas are revealed through the Socratic Method of investigation. In linguistics, universal grammar must have input from the environment (primary linguistic data) in order for children to achieve an individual grammar (output). Biologically, our perceptual faculties are pre-wired, but they require environmental stimuli in order to develop correctly. The neurological structures in our brain that represent the location of LTM are also biologically pre-wired, yet environmental input is needed in order for memory to flourish.

All of these ideas speak to the crux of Plato's Problem, which is how to account for the gap between knowledge and limited experience. For some scientific and philosophical disciplines, the answer to this conundrum is innateness, or biological pre-wiring. Innate knowledge is what bridges the gap between the limited information one gleans from the environment (poverty of the stimulus) and one's actual knowledge.

Read more about this topic:  Plato's Problem

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Famous quotes containing the word implications:

    The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implications of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it—this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience.
    Henry James (1843–1916)

    Philosophical questions are not by their nature insoluble. They are, indeed, radically different from scientific questions, because they concern the implications and other interrelations of ideas, not the order of physical events; their answers are interpretations instead of factual reports, and their function is to increase not our knowledge of nature, but our understanding of what we know.
    Susanne K. Langer (1895–1985)

    When it had long since outgrown his purely medical implications and become a world movement which penetrated into every field of science and every domain of the intellect: literature, the history of art, religion and prehistory; mythology, folklore, pedagogy, and what not.
    Thomas Mann (1875–1955)