The <i>Aporia</i> in the <i>Charmides</i> About Reflexive Knowledge and the Contribution to its Solution in the sun Analogy of the <i>Republic</i>

Vasilis Politis

in Pursuing the Good

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748628117
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652488 | DOI:
The Aporia in the Charmides About Reflexive Knowledge and the Contribution to its Solution in the sun Analogy of the Republic

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This chapter has two aims. Section I examines the aporia in the Charmides about a certain kind of knowledge (for short, reflexive knowledge): the knowledge of what one knows, that one knows it, and of what one does not know, that one does not know it. The aporia is whether or not, first, it is possible that there should be such a knowledge as this, and, second, if this is possible, the possession of it would be of any benefit. The chapter concentrates on the following questions. First, what is supposed to be the source of this aporia? And, second, what is supposed to be its positive upshot, especially in view of the fact that this dialogue ends not with a solution to it but, on the contrary, with a declaration of defeat in the face of it? Section II examines Plato's account of the idea of the good in the Sun-analogy of the Republic. It begins by considering certain central features of this account in its own right, and argues that the idea of the good is characterised as the joint cause of precisely two kinds of thing: on the one hand, the being, truth, and knowability of the things that are, are true and are knowable; on the other hand, the ability of the rational soul to know these things. Against this background, the chapter goes on to argue that the account of the idea of the good in the Sun analogy provides the resources for an account of reflexive knowledge which holds out promise of solving the Charmides aporia, that is, showing how reflexive knowledge can be both possible and beneficial, and of doing so in a way which addresses both the source and the upshot of this aporia as treated in the Charmides.

Keywords: aporia; Charmides; knowledge; Plato; good; Sun-analogy

Chapter.  9883 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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