Plato on Tradition, Knowledge and True Belief
For Plato, the definitions of knowledge, tradition, and true beliefs were critical since men’s philosophical intentions were to study the world in depth. Plato commented that people often confuse these categories and live in ignorance, substituting fundamental knowledge for traditional beliefs. Thus, the deliberate classification of the three aspects of philosophical doctrine was exploratory in nature, with the goal of identifying the structure of world perception by the human mind. In an attempt to systematize the interpretations of these terms, Plato described Socrates’ life journey in his Dialogues.
The metaphysical nature of knowledge is revealed by Plato’s Socrates in the Menon Dialogues. In this text, the philosopher shows that knowledge is the true ideal, which can only be accessed through deep understanding. Thus, as stated earlier, the ordinal transmission of information without critical reflection and the possibility of application cannot lead to a true mastery of new knowledge. Together with knowledge, true beliefs constitute highly reliable material that can be seen as an instruction for each specific situation.
More specifically, faith, according to Plato, characterizes people’s belief in the truth of an observable object or phenomenon, whereby if a given belief is objectively true, it becomes true. Consequently, faith can be called knowledge only if the criterion of objective truth is met. Generalizing these two terms, it is possible to state that faith should be called subjective truth while knowledge is its objective expression. To illustrate this, it is needed to give the example of two people standing on opposite sides of number six.
Objective truth, that is, knowledge, consists in the fact that each of the individuals is on different sides of the number six, whereas subjective belief results in discrepancies. While one of the observers clearly sees the six, the other sees the nine, with each being right in the paradigm of their perception. Meanwhile, a separate category of philosophical doctrine is tradition, which is often refuted and belittled by Plato. The thinker viewed tradition as ideals and opinions transmitted between generations and thus enshrined in the minds of society. Examples of such traditions are ingrained gender stereotypes, social attitudes, and prejudices, the destruction of which entails radical changes in the structure of society.
Thus, Plato critically explored and distinguished between the concepts of knowledge, tradition, and true belief. The essay showed that these categories of being have, according to Plato, unique features and thus cannot be mixed. Simultaneously, traditions are less reliable predictors of critical thinking than true beliefs and knowledge.