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Recollection and Experience: Plato's Theory of Learning and its Successors Paperback – January 29, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"Scott argues skillfully.... A stirring conclusion..." International Studies in Philosophy

"The breadth of the discussion is quite great. It will behoove anyone interested in the notion of innateness to look at this book." Allen Silverman, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Dominic Scott's Recollection and Experience reminds us all of the richness of ancient philosophy and its legacy on the subsequent history of philosophy, particularly the 17th century." David Glidden, Ancient Philosophy

Book Description

This book is concerned chiefly with theories about learning in the history of philosophy, especially ancient philosophy. One of the main questions is: does our knowledge arise just out of experience or do we have some innate knowledge as well? The book is original in comparing different theories over a wide period in a way that should be accessible to students of philosophy and classics as well as professionals. It also has a section on seventeenth-century discussions of innate knowledge and their relation to ancient thought.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition (January 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521030919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521030915
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,905,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a thorough examination of the Platonic concept of recollection, i.e. the theory that all true knowledge involves remembering our prior experience in the realm of Forms before to our earthly incarnation. This is demonstrated by the uneducated slave in Meno that is able to independently generate certain mathematical formulas without prior exposure to them. While it is not explored here, this obviously ties in with Plato's exposure to, and acceptance of, Orphic and/or Pythagorean doctrines of reincarnation.
The author makes it very clear that this theory was intended to account for only knowledge of the Forms. It was never meant to account for mundane and technical knowledge. Concerning this form of learning Plato was a quite capable empiricist. Recollection, as expounded by Plato, was meant to deal only with philosophical/metaphysical knowledge. Moreover, since recollection was seen as the necessary first stage of philosophizing, then only philosophers (or those well on their way to become philosophers) could recollect.
The argument of innate vs. empirical learning is expanded to cover both the ancient world and the present day. A large portion of the second part covers Aristotle's empiricist rejection of his master's thoughts on the subject (which may indeed be the entire origin of the current continuing argument.) The stand of both the Epicureans and the Stoics is presented in the chapters on the Hellenistic schools. The historical development of the arguement is continued on through the present day and the innatism of the Cambridge Platonists.
This is a lengthy and exhaustive examination, but it is rewarding to those seriously interested in the concepts of innate knowledge and the role of intuition in metaphysical thought. Secondly, it indicates the existence of the straight jacket imposed by Aristotelian logic upon this subject. In a larger sense, this book points to where modern thinking went astray of its traditionalist roots.
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Recollection and Experience: Plato's Theory of Learning and its Successors
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