Socrates: Knowledge Is More Valuable Than True Opinion
Finding the connection between knowledge and true opinion is an essential part of Socrates’ philosophy. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that a thorough knowledge of Socrates’ ideals and the truth is impossible because of the small number of primary sources which have preserved the philosopher’s views. Most of the worldviews and teachings of the ancient Greeks accumulated in the famous Dialogues of Plato, Socrates’ disciple.
In one of his Dialogues, Menon, there is a profound discussion of the nature of knowledge. The basic philosophical dilemma underlying the study of the phenomenon of knowledge concerns the determination of how information can be transmitted and what is necessary to assimilate it. Thus Plato, through the portrait of Socrates, tries to find an answer to the question of whether listening to intelligent people is enough to gain their knowledge. The answer seems obvious since knowledge is material that cannot be assimilated without deep understanding. Consequently, even reading encyclopedias or attending a lecture by experts will not make a person a truly knowledgeable individual until they can understand and apply that knowledge in practice.
This philosophy is the defining view of Plato’s Socrates on why knowledge is more valuable than true opinions. It is appropriate to categorize knowledge as a transcendent phenomenon that is absorbed by the human mind and processed into opinion. Certainly, in the Dialogues, Socrates could sustain a real discussion by creating a consensus of opinion, but this hardly led his opponent to knowledge. Only through a series of leading questions could Socrates’ interlocutor come to the core of knowledge, to his understanding, in order to finally understand the nature of the problems under discussion. At the same time, ordinary opinions, even if correct, are insufficient until the individual can transfer them through their own experience.
To summarize, the foundations of Socrates’ philosophy can only be learned through Plato’s extant sources. Thus, Plato’s Socrates explored the nature of knowledge and true opinions in order to determine the structure of human cognition. True opinions reflect a subjective perception of the world that expresses truth according to the individual, whereas knowledge possesses a non-human, extraterrestrial nature.