Two Aspects of Platonic Recollection

Apeiron 35 (2):131 - 152 (2002)
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Abstract

Notwithstanding considerable disagreement over certain details, writers on Plato’s theory of recollection are broadly in agreement regarding some of the main features. Setting aside for the moment those who doubt that Plato ever held any considered doctrine so well‐developed as to constitute a theory of recollection at all, we can find a substantial scholarly consensus in favor of the following account: In the Phaedo Plato argues that all human beings recollect the Forms. Such recollection is meant to account for the formation of (at least certain) abstract concepts under which we classify particulars. Since all human beings engage in such conceptual thought to some degree, all human beings recollect; people could not even hold pre‐philosophical true opinions concerning such things as the good and the equal if they had not at least dimly recollected the Good or the Equal. Recollection is therefore not the exclusive prerogative of philosophers, although philosophers are the only ones who proceed beyond the initial shadowy recollection of the Forms and fully recover their knowledge.1 I have specified that this is the consensus about the Phaedo, since most scholars find a different doctrine in the Meno. Ackrill, Gallop, Gulley, and Bluck, for example, hold that the Meno is concerned with the knowledge of propositions and the Phaedo with the formation of concepts.2 Bostock finds that the Meno does not, but the Phaedo does, implicate recollection in..

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