The paper “ Plato’s Three Conditions for Knowledge” is a wonderful version of a term paper on philosophy. The definition of knowledge is a subject of unending argument among philosophers. Plato, the Father of Western Philosophy, and some philosophers before him attempted the same dispute and formulated assertions on knowledge. In accordance with Plato’s philosophy, to possess the knowledge, three conditions have to be met, namely belief, true belief and justification.
A belief is basically similar to an opinion. It is one person’s perspective that is not essentially supported by facts. An individual may possibly believe that the earth rotates around the moon, or that the tooth fairy does really check each kids pillow every night. That individual might even believe that those are realities. However, with the absence of proof to these facts as more than an assumption, they remain as opinion or belief, instead of knowledge.
Fundamentally, beliefs are theories that we have formulated about the world that surrounds us. Even a belief that turns out to be true does not mechanically become knowledge on the foundation that it is a fact. Here is an example: A contestant in a game show was asked, ” Which president was taller, Abe Lincoln or Grover Cleveland?” He guessed the answer: Lincoln. Lincoln was an exceptionally tall man, based on each memory that the contestant had of Lincoln. However, the contestant might not have seen any pictures of Cleveland. That Lincoln was probably taller than Cleveland was a mere opinion of the contestant. And although he believed that Lincoln was taller than Cleveland, he most likely would not bet on it.
In reality, Lincoln was indeed the tallest of all presidents. This made the contestant’s opinion true, on the other hand, just because he had a correct opinion, did not necessarily imply that he knew that fact. Therefore, a correct opinion or true belief cannot be deemed real knowledge (Baker, 2012a).
In Plato’s philosophy, although belief and knowledge are two different things, one is inseparable from the other. For example, if one says that two plus two equals four, it would be pointless to say that the person knew this truth without accepting it as true. In Plato’s principle, knowledge means belief.
While an individual should have a belief to have the knowledge, it is likewise a must that it be a true belief. He cannot know something that is false. For sure, it would be impossible to find a person who knows that one plus one equals five, and there is no way he will ever find evidence to support this account as true (Baker, 2012a).
Justification is the last condition for knowledge, as said by Plato. Lack of validation would mean that it is an only true opinion. Plato terms this justification as a binder and uses in his experiment an analogy of sculptures that will escape if untied. While a rather obscure case, what Plato is implying is that true opinion is short-lived. A belief is a mental state, which can time and again be inconsistent and prone to adjustment.
In our example in the first condition for knowledge, the game show contestant who had seen several photographs of Lincoln being extremely tall, unexpectedly remembered that in all pictures of the tall Lincoln, he was actually wearing a hat which made him appear tall. In view of this recollection, the contestant could begin to hesitate in his belief that Lincoln was taller than Cleveland. Moreover, if the contestant remembered a friend previously stating that Cleveland was a very tall man, he could even change his mind entirely and choose Cleveland as the safer answer.
Justification is the sensible validation of one’s true opinion. Without this validation, the true belief that Lincoln is taller than Cleveland is merely a lucky guess or theory. In the same way, if the contestant were to answer Cleveland, he would still just be depending on belief. What is missing is the consistent information that places the fact of Lincoln as being taller than the fact of Cleveland. This would be the contestant’s validation to truly defend his belief that Lincoln was indeed taller. Presenting this rationale, the contestant would probably then be willing to bet on the question: ” Which president was taller, Abe Lincoln or Grover Cleveland?” The contestant would now be able to confidently declare, ” Lincoln is taller,” due to the following reasons:
1. The statement is true and correct (True).
2. The contestant believes that it is correct (Belief).
3. He is justified in believing that it is correct (Justified). According to Plato, with all the three conditions met, the contestant would be the proud holder of Knowledge (Baker, 2012a).
However, contradicting Plato’s Theory of Knowledge is Gettier’s Theory. Gettier revealed a primary error in Plato’s logic. Gettier formed a theoretical situation in which justified true belief falls short in leading to knowledge, thereby causing an assumption that some other components would need to be present so as to possess knowledge. Even as Gettier acknowledges Platos “ justified true belief” as essentials in the possession of knowledge, he believes that an absent element is crucial to account for some situations of accidents making justified true belief devoid of knowledge, as exposed in the Gettier theory (Baker, 2012b).