February 10, 2005

Do We "Know the Truth of What We Speak?"

Have you ever known somebody who needs to be the authority on every possible subject? I know I have. I have this friend who, no matter what the conversations is about, needs to know more about it than anybody else. Even if she has no experience in that particular area of expertise. After reading Plato's "Ion" and an excerpt from "Phaedrus," I felt like my annoyance with this particular friend was finally justified. I no longer have to feel like she is trying to show me up, because I can now pretend to play Socrates to her constant Ion.

Aside from giving me a certain level of personal satisfaction, these dialogues explore a much more significant and important concept of Truth and Reality. Socrates claims in "Ion" that artists (painters, musicians, writers, and rhapsodes) do not have any real knowledge of their art; they are merely inspired by the muses to create that which they are implelled to create. I both agree and disagree with Socrates' statement. Although it may be impossible for a rhapsode to speak with knowledge about every subject, I believe that certain artists can produce Truth and Reality through their work, and that they indeed know what it is they are producing. For example, a painting of a woman is a representation of that woman. However, that representation can clearly portray the reality of that woman's beauty or ugliness, her happiness or sorrow, or her inner needs. By capturing a moment of that woman's life on canvas, the painter can show a Truth about that woman that may have been otherwise overlooked.

Philosophy can sometimes make my head spin around in circles, but I do know that Socrates' conclusion that: "He who would be a master of the art must understand the real nature of everything; or he will never know either how to make the gradual departure from truth into the opposite of truth which is effected by the help of resemblances, or how to avoid it."

Just because one doesn't "understand the real nature of everything" doesn't mean that he can't know the Truth about some things. While I think that my friend should stop claiming to know it all, I also think that I should start listening to some of the things she does know. Maybe then I could learn a little more.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at February 10, 2005 01:28 PM | TrackBack
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