Plato’s View on Knowledge and True Opinion



Drawing the line between knowledge and true opinion has been a point of discussion by philosophers for a long time now. Beginning from ancient times (around 400B.C.) Plato embraced this question. According to Plato, for one to attain knowledge, they have to have justified true opinion about the point in question. Plato has presented knowledge as being more than true opinion. The following is a discussion of how knowledge and true opinion can serve equally well, and why knowledge should be preferred to opinion.

As Harrison noted, “The view that knowledge is justified true opinion still holds after many years some sway in Philosophy, yet it can quite easily be conclusively refuted – more often by being presupposed rather than by being explicitly stated – and by a very simple example. Paddy O’Brien has just bet on the Derby. He believes that it will not win, because the odds against its winning are 50 to 1, and, in fact, it does not win. His justified opinion that he will lose is, therefore, true. However, he did not know that he was not going to win, or he would not have bet.”(Harrison, 2008). This is a mere instance of many cases in which people justify risk taking. Paddy believes that the decision will not be successful (and in fact it is correct), nevertheless the paying off is really huge, therefore to take a risk is worthwhile. Furthermore, Paddy O’Brian does not have knowledge that he will lose, only an opinion. The absence of knowledge is another reason why Paddy O’Brian bets on Derby, because no sane person will bet with certain knowledge of losing. This example shows the difference between true opinion and knowledge. My personal example will be the situation with cabs which is familiar to almost every single person. Each moment that I catch a cab, I proceed to the cab stop with the belief (in most cases correct) the cab will come, albeit, not on time. Though, I do not have the knowledge that the cab will arrive, or I ought to have called a motor bike in case the cab appears not.

A notably huge proportion, of each day actions involves such cases. The view of knowledge being justified by true opinion may not simply account for them (Plato,2003). The mistaking of knowledge for true opinion most often results from a fallacy of models shift. This is the fallacy precursor which I have in mind. Descartes holding is a common knowledge, that we can attain knowledge of the truths that are prerequisite resulting from his ambiguous proposition(a) it turns out to be a necessary truth that if I am aware of something being true, and indeed it is true, the proposition that I actually know ought to be necessarily a truth, which is false.

The confusion that knowledge is true opinion is the result of the following statements. It is hard to understand that what one knows and suppose to know is false. This gives people the wrong conviction, that knowledge is not an opinion which is fully justified-and from this it follows that it was an element of true opinion. It thus follows that they believe that if what we know is to be conceived as false we would not know anything.

To those who do admit that true opinion is knowledge, share the thought since they are of thought that if knowledge called for a certainty, than I am not a brain in a vat would be unknown to me, or Houston is my name since it is not conceivable that I am a brain in a vat, and though unlikely, conceivably true stories can be shared, whereby, I got substituted for the legal holder of my name escaping anybody’s knowledge. Those two things are conceivable on the condition that it gets wrongly purported that we cannot acquire knowledge of things which may be conceived as not true. Such mistakes lead people into believing that our insights are being set too high and to request for anything beyond justified true opinion the moment we need knowledge. Knowledge nonetheless, calls for certainty. “Would I have any justification that the bus will arrive in time, though I may be mistaken” is a correct manner of speaking. “I know the bus will be timely in arriving, but it may not.”(Grote, 1992).Were it not for the account, it would turn out to be improper to call the true opinion that would be true opinion had it not been for the account. The account is the one which averts what would be called an opinion with disregard to the account into knowledge. Fairly obvious would be the fact that knowledge is not, at all opinion, whether the opinion is true or not.

It would not make sense to say that I know five plus five is ten without believing it. Just like one ought to have the opinion to have knowledge, it is also required that it is a true opinion. It is not possible to have knowledge about something which is not true. It is not possible to come across somebody who says they know that two plus three equals seven, and any kind of evidence which could support the same statement is unavailable.


Many philosophers brought their argument forth as far as distinguishing or trying to draw a line between knowledge and true opinion. Since Plato can be considered to be a father and one of the first great thinkers it is not surprising that the question of knowledge was interesting to him. His works on this subject is no less important than any other works of political philosophy, since political philosophy was main area of Plato’s interest.



Grote, G. (1992). Plato and the other companions of Sokrates. Thoemmes Press.

Harrison, J. (12 May 2008). Knowledge and True Opinion. Retrieved on 26 September 2011. From < &id=79&Itemid=77>

Plato, Cornford, F.,M. (2003).Plato’s theory of knowledge: The Theaetetus and the Sophist. New York. Library of Congress.


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