Analysis Of Plato's Doctrine Of Recollection

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Plato’s Doctrine of Recollection is a theory of “learning” which aims to solve the issue of how one may learn something when one does not know what the thing is. Despite successfully and adequately addressing the paradox proposed by Meno, the Doctrine of Recollection fails to adequately address issues of its own circularity (as proposed by Edward Fraser) and also fails to address the issue of the regress problem.
Perhaps one of the clearest instances where we learn of the Doctrine of Recollection occurs in Plato’s Meno. Meno, the interlocutor opposite Socrates, asks Socrates the question: “…how are you going to inquire about it, Socrates, when you do not at all know what it is?” (80d). The issue this question proposes is that it suggests that
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Through minimal instruction by Socrates, instead proposing questions to the servant, the servant eventually comes to the correct answer. Socrates takes this as the servant recollecting the material since the “belief[s] he gave as an answer” were his own, but that “he did not know the answer” (85b-85c). Socrates uses these premises to form the argument one may have true beliefs about things he does not know and that by these beliefs being “stirred up in him… he will have knowledge of them that is no less exact than anyone else’s” …show more content…
While this argument does show the argument in Meno to be circular in the case of the slave boy, and that Plato’s theory as it stands cannot surmount the claim of its circularity, it does not necessarily make the Doctrine false. It does, however, point out an important flaw in Plato’s argument, granting some doubt to whether the Doctrine is actually the case.
Another argument against the Doctrine of Recollection is one that the Doctrine does not account for how the soul ever came to know the knowledge. Socrates, at least in the Phaedo and Meno, makes no mention of how the soul learned all things, except that it learned them across its immortal “lifespan”. In essence, the regress problem affects Socrates’ argument. In trying to explain how humans can learn (or recollect) knowledge, Socrates merely shifts the burden of Meno’s paradox from a human learning things to a soul learning things.

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