Theaetetus Socrates’ Criticisms and Defense - Essay


Socrates’ Criticisms and Defense

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

The theory is now fully stated, and Socrates moves on to the criticism of it. He first makes some rather trivial objections. He points out, in the first place, that the theory does not justify taking humanity as the measure of all things. With just as good reason, one might take a pig or a horse as the measure, if knowledge is merely an interaction between a flux and a private sense organ. The criticism is not developed seriously; nevertheless, there is a purpose in making it. It suggests, without explicitly stating, a crucial element in the discussion of knowing; namely, that a judging mind is involved wherever there is a genuine case of knowing. A judging mind is precisely what a pig or horse lacks; thus, it is ridiculous to say that a pig is the measure of all things. The other criticisms Socrates makes at this time also imply the same point, that a judging mind must be included in any theory of knowing.

Three additional criticisms are made here:1. The theory, because it rejects any common world shared by two knowers, provides no justification for Protagoras’s life as a teacher. Protagoras cannot justify his role as a teacher who corrects his pupils unless he is in some sense the measure of his pupils’ worlds. 2. Sensations cannot be all there is to knowing because this would imply that one who cannot read would nevertheless know what is said on a page of writing when he merely sees it. Yet this clearly is not the case....

(The entire section is 572 words.)