Commentary on Plato`s Divided Line. Line is a world in general, which, according to Plato, is divided into perceptible and knowable; something that can be taken but cannot be known, and vice versa. Plato believes that the visible world is in "permanent change" and even in chaos (Cormack 90). Although the occurring phenomenon represent the embodiments of the ideal forms, the forms can be understood only by means of logical reasoning. For example, the idea of a triangle as an abstract object, which "sum of the angles is equal to one hundred and eighty degrees", can be implemented only in "the visible world with varying degrees of certainty" (Sheppard 159). This also applies to other forms of ideal (not only to geometric objects); for instance, there is an idea of justice and its various incarnations in one form or another. According to Plato, a part of the line corresponding to the perceived world is divided into two parts: "the physical world and the human notions about it" (Sheppard 160). In fact, human knowledge of the world may be incomplete and distorted, while only the physical world can be an entirely complete and accurate model. Today, physicists dwell on it (adducing proofs), but "the pioneer" of this idea was Plato, as "the significance of the Divided Line is the apparent one-to-one relationship between levels of reality and levels of comprehension" (Cormack 91). A divided line has an impact on all "models of cognition and many religious ideas" that exist now; however, its critique proposed by Aristotle influenced them to the same extent (Cormack 90).
Socratic Characteristics of Knowledge based on the Theory of Divided Line and Virtue. Socrates believes that a person exercises dominion only over owned things. Thus, human is free only to the extent in which he/she knows him-/herself, his/her strength and abilities to make the right choice on the basis of the acquired knowledge and experience (Cormack 123). Moreover, when it comes to moral behavior, then a reasonable choice would mean that virtue is knowledge. "In like manner the good may be said to be not only the author of knowledge to all things known, but of their being and essence, and yet the good is not essence, but far exceeds essence in dignity and power" (Plato 509b). According to Socrates, one knowledge may be different from the other knowledge. Knowledge of good and evil is superior to all other kinds of knowledge. Ethical knowledge is comprehensive for the philosopher as it is the knowledge of what constitutes happiness and "defines the right choice of conduct and way of life" (Cormack 141). During the initial premise of his argument about the virtues of a knowledge, Socrates considers mind as a decisive characteristic that distinguishes human from animals and from all living beings in general. It is logical to conclude that a person sets certain goals and objectives owing to mind. At the same time, a person bases upon the acquired knowledge and skills and "seeks to realize their intentions" (Cormack 149). The more human's knowledge is complete the higher is his/her skills. Socrates believes that only knowledge allows a person to use reasonable means at his/her disposal (such as wealth and health) "to achieve well-being and happiness" (Cormack 165). Wealth and health are neither good nor evil. They fluctuate between these two extents depending on knowledge or ignorance. Therefore, knowledge and ignorance are good is evil respectively.
Cormack, Michael. Continuum Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Platos Stepping Stones (1st Edition). London, GB: Continuum, 2006. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 8 February 2016.
Plato, and Benjamin Jowett. The Republic. Champaign, III: Project Gutenberg, n.d. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
Sheppard, D.J. Plato's Republic: An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh, GBR: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 8 February 2016.