Plato's Problem - Introduction


What is knowledge? What is experience? How do they interact? Is there a correlational, causal, or reciprocal relationship between knowledge and experience? These and other related questions have been at the forefront of investigation by problem solvers, scientists, psychologists, and philosophers for centuries. These questions, but particularly the problem of how experience and knowledge interrelate, have broad theoretical and practical implications for such academic disciplines as epistemology, linguistics, and psychology (specifically the subdiscipline of thinking and problem solving). Gaining a more precise understanding of human knowledge, whether defined as innate, experiential, or both, is an important part of effective problem solving.

Plato was the first philosopher who systematically inquired into issues such as those noted above. He wrote many dialogues, such as Euthyphro and the Apology, but it is from the Meno that the modern instantiation of Plato's Problem is derived. In the Meno, Plato theorizes about the relationship between knowledge and experience and provides an explanation for how it is possible to know something that one has never been explicitly taught. Plato believed that we possess innate ideas that precede any knowledge that we gain through experience.

As formulated by Noam Chomsky, accounting for this gap between knowledge and experience is "Plato's Problem". The phrase has a specific linguistic context with regard to language acquisition but can also be used more generally.

Read more about this topic:  Plato's Problem

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