Theaetetus (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 13 Mar 2014
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strongly recommended for undergraduates and anyone with a serious interest in Plato. (Colin Leach, Classics for All)
About the Author
John McDowell taught at University College, Oxford before moving to Pittsburgh in 1986. He was the John Locke Lecturer at the University of Oxford in 1991. His publications include Mind and World (1994), Mind, Value, and Reality (1998), and Meaning, Knowledge, and Reality (1998), all Harvard University Press. His edition of Plato's Theaetetus was published in the Clarendon Plato series in 1973. Lesley Brown was Centenary Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Somerville College, and a University Lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford; she is now an emeritus fellow. She has published widely on Plato's dialogues, notably the Theaetetus and Sophist, as well as on Aristotle. She wrote the Introduction and Notes for the new edition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics in OWC (2009).
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Now professional philosophers like to play games about whether knowledge is justified true belief (look up the "Gettier problem"), similar to asking whether some particular action is right, like diverting a train to hit one man and thus save many, rather than working out a coherent view of what it means to know. In the Theaetetus Plato perhaps connects knowledge to his theory of Forms: in 186d, "So knowledge is located, not in our experiences, but in our reasoning about those things we mentioned; because it's possible, apparently, to grasp being and truth in the latter, but impossible in the former." A bold reading of this is that the objects of knowledge are not sensible objects but Forms. Plato also gives two metaphors for knowing, the "imprint-receiving piece of wax in our minds" (191) and a "sort of aviary for birds of every kind" (197). Plato certainly does not mean that these are true mechanical models of knowing, but using metaphors like these feels to me like cognitive science and neuroscience.
Space forbids me to discuss the many other interesting suggestions advanced in the Commentary. I shall merely conclude by recommending this edition as an important contribution to Platonic studies.