Socrates The Aviary Model: An Analysis

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The purpose of the Theaetetus is to examine how the mind accounts for knowledge by seeking an answer to the question Socrates poses to Theaetetus, what is knowledge? (146A). After a few failed attempts at answering, Theaetetus posits that knowledge is true opinion (187B). Socrates responds that in order for one to know what true opinion is, he must also account for false opinion in the mind. Ultimately, while the dialogue produces no operative definition for knowledge, Plato employs this dialogue to sharpen his arguments for what are and are not the brackets of knowledge. To that end, Socrates posits the Wax Block Model and then the Aviary Model to explain how a subject is imprinted on the mind. This paper will assess the components of Socrates’ …show more content…
Socrates’ purpose in introducing the Aviary Model is to improve upon shortcomings of the Wax Block Model, particularly the model’s failure to account for things not able to be perceived. The Wax Block Model posits that an object impressed on wax leaves an imprint of itself; similarly, concepts impressed on the mind leave an imprint, or retained knowledge, of the concept. The extent or quality of the imprint will affect the degree to which the concept is retained or remembered. As wax blocks can vary in size or consistency, so too minds vary in strength and capacity. The Wax Block Model allows that false opinion is possible because one can mix-up a memory imprint of a known thing with a perception imprint of something else that is also known. Socrates gives the example of mathematics as something one can know, but not perceive. For instance, an individual knows the number four, but has no perception of the essence of what it means to be four (196A). This reduces learning to just things that are able to be perceived with the senses. The Aviary Model provides that both perceived concepts and essential concepts are acquired by the mind. Additionally, the Aviary Model is superior to the Wax Block Model as it allows pieces of knowledge to interact with each other. Within the Wax Block Model, an imprint is fixed and cannot change to relate with another imprint. Socrates …show more content…
Theaetetus seeks to salvage the Aviary Model by suggesting pieces of ignorance are flying about with pieces of knowledge in the aviary (199E). Theaetetus argues that it will be the case “for the hunter sometimes to take hold of a piece of knowledge and sometimes a piece of nonknowledge about the same thing, having a false opinion with the nonknowledge and a true one with the knowledge.” Socrates then shows that Theaetetus’ argument merely sharpens the basic observation that the hunter has grabbed the bird which represents a false opinion (200A). Socrates questions Socrates questions as how does the hunter differentiate between the birds that are knowledge and the birds that are nonknowledge. If the hunter possessed knowledge that what he held was a piece of ignorance he would not have chosen it. In this way, Socrates has reduced the inquiry to how does one possess knowledge that what one has acquired is

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