Thursday, November 3, 2016
Plato at the Googleplex
So far, I have enjoyed Plato at the Googleplex far more than I initially anticipated. I found myself so engaged with the philosophical dialogue between Plato and the workers at the Googleplex that I didn't even have time to dread the 60 page reading! Although I can't consider Plato my favorite philosopher by any means, Goldstein's modern application of his philosophical concepts gives me a much better understanding and appreciation for him as a philosopher who I once judged as nothing more than a confused, paradoxical man.
I found the character’s discussion perplexing and even when the chapter was over, I found myself searching my own mind for moral answers and deciding whether I believe it is better to rely on moral experts, as Plato suggested, or crowd-sourcing like google does. What makes it a particularly difficult contemplation is the analogy to orthodontics that Plato used to support his theory. Without this comparison, I would immediately assume a democratic attitude about the matter and insist that “of course crowd-sourcing gives us the most complete set of information because it combines the knowledge of everyone, limiting us from the biases of the sparse population of ‘experts.’ However, when looking at it using Plato’s analogy, I realize that I would feel much more confident that my teeth would be properly aligned if I accepted the treatment suggested by a professional orthodontist than if I used a treatment proposed by the majority consensus of regular people.
I suppose when it comes down to it, this question asks us to sacrifice either accuracy or well-roundedness when deciding which method should be used to properly obtain knowledge. Of course, morals add an extra layer of dilemma because they’re so esoteric when compared to things that can be scientifically supported. In the end, our best option is to find a way to compromise our methods so that we have both accuracy and well-roundedness in our conclusions.