The Platonic Dialogue Theaetetus — With A Translation Of The Episodal Sketch Of The Worldling And The Philosopher -- By: Tayler Lewis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 009:35 (Jul 1852)
Article: The Platonic Dialogue Theaetetus — With A Translation Of The Episodal Sketch Of The Worldling And The Philosopher
Author: Tayler Lewis


The Platonic Dialogue Theaetetus — With A Translation Of
The Episodal Sketch Of The Worldling And The Philosopher

Tayler Lewis

The Platonic dialogue entitled Theaetetus, is a discussion of the question: What is knowledge f an inquiry which will appear profound or superficial, according to the aspect under which it is viewed, and the habit of thought in him who contemplates it. What is knowledge? What do we do, or suffer, when we are said to know? or, in other words, is there a knowledge of knowledge itself, just as there is a knowledge of those things which are ordinarily regarded as its objects? The principal speakers are Socrates and a boy on whom he is represented as trying his maieutical powers in the parturition, development, or bringing to the birth, of the right idea with which the soul travails in the attempt to answer the great inquiry. The youth

of Theaetetus, the junior speaker, modifies the whole style of the dialogue, without at all detracting from its interest and profoundness. It is, indeed, a boy to whom the questions are addressed, and whose answers are so closely analyzed. To a superficial reader, therefore, the style may sometimes assume the aspect of the puerile — an appearance for which the principal speaker occasionally apologizes — and yet this boy-talk, as he styles it, is evidently adopted as the best means of bringing out some of those starting queries in psychology that are as puzzling to the man as to the child, and in respect to which all the advantage an Aristotle, a Kant, or a Locke may possess, consists in being able to state intelligently the immense difficulty attending them.

The dialogue throughout may be ranked among those that have been entitled tentative (πειραστικοι), and which have all, more or less, a sceptical aspect. The great question with which it begins, and which is never lost sight of, is after all left without a satisfactory solution. The curtain drops, and still we know not what it is to know. There have been, however, negative results of a most useful and practical kind. The grand idea has not, indeed, been born; but many a spurious birth has been tested; many an abortion has been cast away; counterfeit travail of the soul has been distinguished from the genuine; or, to adopt another metaphor, which is also employed in the dialogue, falsehood and false knowledge, have been hunted out of their dark hiding places, and their disguised deformity clearly brought forth to light.

The first answer of our young respondent is, that knowledge is sense, or sensation. This is analyzed into its ultimate element of mere feeling You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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