Iris Murdoch researched more on Plato's views regarding metaphor and art and related them to Socratic ideal and philosophy. In her study she concluded that Socratic discussion is not more of scientific investigation since the knowledge that was being analyzed is more personal and literary kind of knowledge rather than that of science. The level of knowledge shown in Plato's myth of the cave, involves an increase in both perceptual and conceptual accuracy in addition, it also explains emotional and social dynamic accuracy .This indicates that issues related to dialect requires a greater role for non rational elements and those that cannot be expressed such as images, which is a contrast of what philosophers tend to acknowledge. (Brune and Krohn, 2005, pg 63)
She argues that there are serious problems related to Socratic Dialogue such are the practical problems such as extensive periods of confusion, irritation, impatience, individual differences and other interpersonal frictions. Further more, they never seem to accomplish what they set to achieve. She quotes that “To be frank, in fifteen years of Socratic Dialogue I never experienced a consensus of the ideal mathematical type outside mathematics groups.” Also the Socrates in Plato's dialogues had similar problem. This indicates the type of knowledge they acquired which did not involve issues related to dialect but it is more of none literal knowledge. .All these were practical concerns but also there were more basic objections. They could not clarify in an understandable way any example given in form of structure and relate it in the light of the question at hand. They therefore never acquired the real knowledge hence they could never get out of the cave. As described above, the kind of knowledge that they acquired was too abstract it was also very barren and too verbal (Brune and Krohn, 2005, pg 73)
On the other hand we find that Bergson practiced “radical empiricism” as Milic Carpec suggests. Bergson argues that true empiricism is the one that holds the original self and digs more deep into its life. He says that true empiricism is the true metaphysics which he says is the object of perception. He claims that the true empiricism is not a doctrine concerning the source of knowledge or a segregation of all likely experiences. He argues that radical knowledge is neither traced nor induced rather it is only sensed. This is in contrast to the knowledge explained by Plato which was shown to have no association with dialect and was too abstract. In contrast to that of Plato, Bergson argues that true knowledge is an attempt to create experience but not being a captive of passivity of experience. True knowledge recognizes what can only be perceived but not being just a mixture of everyday experience and abstraction. It aims at individual specificity in relation to its object, the uniqueness of the individual which can only be sensed but not imagined. This brings out clearly the difference with Plato's view where knowledge was overall abstract and they could not relate a certain example with real life experiences to solve the problem at hand. (Mullarkey, 1999, pg 158).
Analyzing on their similarities in regard to knowledge, you find that they both talk of object of perception. Murdoch says that the knowledge they were trying to investigate is much more personal and not associated to science as most philosophers argue. Similarly we find that Bergson talks of metaphysical object which he refers it as object of perception. These two theories cannot be applied in the world we are living today. Currently we need a mind that is innovative and is sensitive to the surrounding and the needs of people in order to survive. To some extent Bergson appeared to be real but not very sensitive to meet the current crisis which needs one to apply knowledge.
On the issue regarding skepticism, we find that Descartes on the second maxim he explains that he resolved to be firm and resolute in his action and not to entertain any less realistic opinion. He says that in life's actions, most frequently there is no delay that is acceptable and in times when it is away from our power to detect the opinions which carry the reality, we should follow the most credible. In addition, if we realize that there is no higher possibility in the one opinion than in the other, we should decide to follow an exact one and then consider it afterwards. In this section we find that Descartes is expressing some form of doubt since he says that if the first solution to our problem fails we should not stand still but one should follow the available solution at that time even though one is not sure of the out come. In the example he gives of a traveler, he expresses how the traveler should take another route even though one is not assured to get to the original destination. He argues it is better than remaining in the centre of the forest and stand still. This expresses skepticism that he encountered in his life (Descartes…et a,pg18).
On another instance he explains that some years have passed since he realized the many false beliefs that he had encountered until his youthful period which were regarded to be true. He argues that everything appears to be doubtful since he had founded his knowledge and his faith on these youthful values. Since that time he claims that he was persuaded that he must put off all opinions which he had initially accepted. He had to start to build a new from the groundwork in order to create firm and long lasting structure in sciences. However he waited until he reached a mature age where he had no hope of executing the design he had regarded to be true and strong. As a result of this he felt that he was in the wrong any time he deliberated on the time left for him to carry out the action. In this section we observe how Descartes expresses some skepticism while he analyses how his childhood values affected his decisions in his latter life. He doubts some of the things that he believed that they were true during his young stages of life. He is determined to change them and start anew laying a firm foundation but he has not yet managed. Therefore he still feels his life is full of doubts because he is controlled by his childhood values. The purpose of his skepticism is that it brings out the reality of life. In life, everyone has his opinions which he regards as true and the right ones to follow. However, one finds that the reverse is true and follows other opinions which appear to be standard and regarded as the right ones. Sometimes due to fate one is forced to follow a different idea since the planned one can never apply hence one has to risk at least to achieve something. His doubts bring out clearly the challenges of life that are common to everyone. He therefore tries to advice that one should give room to some of similar incidents in life that leaves one at the point of compromise (Descartes… et al 1996, pg66).
Regarding the piece of wax, the writer says that wax can undergo various changes but he is unable to imagine the number of changes it undergoes. His skepticism is clearly observed when he says that “I must therefore admit that the nature of this piece of wax is no way revealed by my imagination, but is perceived by the mind alone.” He says it is not understandable the kind of wax that is perceived by the mind only yet it is the same type of wax that he always sees, which he always handle and he always use. He shows doubt by the fact that he cannot now perceive, imagine or express more about it. He knows says it is a matter of mental scrutiny, and this can lead to a lot of confusion than it was before. This shows how much he cannot clearly explain how many forms wax can be extended and he shows much doubt on the issue of wax as he tries to analyze it in his mind. He cannot figure out how the same kind of wax he used has become unknown to him (Descartes…et al, 1996, pg21).
According to Locke he says that abstract ideas which are general they are necessary. As Berkeley gives example of a mind of a child which is unexercised and he says that abstract ideas are not very obvious and easy to children as argued by Locke. Berkeley does not agree that the abstract ideas are the ones that assist one to get the overall knowledge of a certain object. He argues that for instance, if one is asked to draw a triangle he must have in mind how the shape of a triangle looks like. One will argue out that it's not circular, oval or rectangular. Therefore, this indicates that general ideas and most abstract ideas are not the ideas that the mind is initially and simply acquainted with and it is not the earliest knowledge that one is familiar with. As he argues this we observe how he disagrees the fact about the primary qualities that one learns at young stage of life. He tries to corrupt the ideas that Locke has concerning abstract ideas which are important since they gives one some guidelines and a sense of direction. He therefore does not bring out clearly the importance of primary qualities that are the foundations of secondary characteristics. He argues that it is an easy task for someone to probe his mind and figure out the shape of a triangle, one just simply needs to check a little into his own thoughts and attempt whether he or she has or can manage to have, an idea that is similar to the description that has been given of the general outlook of a triangle. This brings out clearly how Berkeley tries to overshadow the primary knowledge which Locke argues it is necessary (Berkley, 2008 pg16, 17).
Another refutation that we observe is when Locke argues that “ All our ideas, sensations, notions, or the things that we perceive, by whatsoever names they may be distinguished, are inactive there is nothing of power or agency included in them.” Berkeley argues that there is nothing extra that is needed but just an observation which we make from our mind and then we obtain some ideas. He says that every part of ideas exists only in our mind therefore there is nothing that is contained in them but just what is perceived in our mind. In addition he says that motion; figure are not what causes our sensations. He adds, “To say therefore, that these are the effects of powers resulting from the configuration, number, motion, and size of corpuscles, must certainly be false.” This section also indicates how Berkeley refutes the ideas of Locke he argues that our sensations are not as a result of motion he says that what causes all these sensations is what we perceive in our mind. His argument is based on the fact that our emotions and sensations are very inactive and they never contribute to anything in the behavior or thinking. He says that what we perceive in our mind is what brings about the difference. In this case he tries to corrupt the basic values that contribute to what our minds perceive, and then one acts after thinking. As human beings always our sensations and our feelings contribute to what we perceive (Berkley, 2008, pg 39).
If this theory were to be true then one would not view the world the same way as today. Always the primary values that one is taught at the early stages are important and they contribute in laying a foundation in someone's life. For instance, the basic things that one was taught in nursery school like writing the alphabets and vowels are very important since they enable one to become literate. One is taught the wrong and the right at this young stage. If one did not learn these basics then one would be living in a world of confusion. One cannot differentiate the right from the wrong but views all things as equal this can lead to great problems since one is very ignorant. In the world we are living today, it needs someone who is thinking critically in order to survive. If this theory was to apply then there would be no development and we would be living in world full of darkness. The issue of science and technology could be something that is unheard of and things would be too manual and people would not understand each other since there are no standards and regulations that are followed to unite people.
Berkeley, G. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge Minnesota: Arc Manor LLC, 2008.
Brune, J.and Krohn, D. Socratic dialogue and ethics. Munster: LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Munster, 2005
Descartes, R…et al. Meditations on first philosophy: with selections from the Objections and replies .2nd Ed Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Mullarkey, J. The new Bergson Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999