Platonic recollection and mental pregnancy

Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (2):137-155 (2006)
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Abstract

: Plato's founding position in the tradition of epistemological nativism has been underestimated. In addition to his notorious, naively non-dispositional model of learning as recollection, Plato offers several neglected dispositional models of innate ideas, including Diotima's model of mental pregnancy in the Symposium, in which maturing mental embryos begin not with the actual content of the knowledge to be acquired, but with a specific potentiality that must be actualized through series of specific kinds of experience and mental activity. A survey of dialogues from Meno to Phaedrus shows that Plato typically favors such dispositional models, and that he raises doubts about the non-dispositional details of the recollection model where it occurs

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Glenn Rawson
Rhode Island College

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