The Limit of Epistemological Insight

 

Socrates himself does not propose an answer, staying instead with the negation. He offers Theaetetus his celebrated analogy of the barren midwife who can only help another give birth. Socrates continues:

Doesn’t it strike you as shameless to explain what knowing is like, when we don’t know what knowledge is?

The truth is, Theaetetus, that for some time past there has been a vicious taint in our discussion. Times out of numbers we have said ‘we know’, ‘we do not know’, ‘we have knowledge’, ‘we have no knowledge’, as if we could understand each other while we still know nothing about knowledge…

All that we have brought to birth..today about knowledge..our midwives skill pronounces to be mere wind eggs and not worth the rearing..

Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know, for that and no more is all that my art can effect..’

Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know, for that and no more is all that my art can effect..’This is the limit of true Epistemological insight.

 


The Good Professors could not come to terms with Socrates’ negation, his flaunted agnosticism, this descent into infinite regress. So they declared victory and retreated.

But they needed some legitimizing link to Plato’s Dialogues in order to attest classical origins. So they took with them this ‘Least Presumptive’ definition of Knowledge and started a new Subject called Epistemology.

The study of Knowing while firmly resident in the Know. The absurdity had been winked away. It was back to business as usual. The Blink and the Wink.