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Colloquium: Jessica Moss
September 27 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Each colloquium will be held on Wednesday at 4:15 P.M. in GC rooms 9204/9205 (except as otherwise noted).
Jessica Moss (NYU)
“Is Plato’s Epistemology about Knowledge?”
It is widely assumed that when Plato talks about epistêmê he is talking about knowledge. Recently that assumption has come under attack: much of what Plato says about epistêmê – that it requires an explanatory account, or that it is exclusively of Forms, or that it cannot be transmitted by testimony – makes more sense if we interpret it instead as what philosophers nowadays call ‘understanding.’
Should we conclude that Plato’s epistemology is not about knowledge after all? Or, as some have argued, that he confused knowledge with understanding? And how should we go about settling such questions – what would count as evidence that Plato was, or was not, talking about knowledge?
I propose an answer to these questions by looking at the features Plato treats as characterizing a general concept of epistêmê, by contrast with a substantive theory. I conclude that his general concept of epistêmê is: an unerring grasp of the truth. This sounds plausibly like our general concept of knowledge; arguably the radical features of Plato’s substantive theory are due primarily to features of his metaphysics and psychology rather than of his epistemology.