Catherine Joanna Rowett
University of East Anglia
I ask whether the Recollection argument commits Socrates to the view that our only source of knowledge of the Forms is sense perception. I argue that Socrates does not confine our presently available sources of knowledge to empirically based recollection, but that he does think that we can't begin to move towards a philosophical understanding of the Forms except as a result of puzzles prompted by the shortfall of particulars in relation to the Forms, and hence that our awareness of the Forms is first prompted by sense-perception. This leaves open the possibility that once that critical awareness of the Forms is established, further reflection at a conceptual level may lead to continued recollection and learning without further input from the senses, and that this approach is what is recommended for the more advanced philosopher. Hence the position endorsed by Socrates in the Phaedo, recommending that the philosopher get in training for death, fleeing as far as is possible from the bodily senses which only distract, is consistent with the position on sense perception in the Recollection argument. The senses are treated as a necessary prompt to reflection, not because they provide our best source of knowledge, but because we start life tied to the senses and believing their objects important.
Keywords Phaedo  Recollection  Forms
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DOI 10.1093/aristotelian/95.1.211
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