Examining the Role of “Perplexity”

The role of “perplexity” is an important concept to grasp because it serves as the basis for why people continually seek to gain knowledge.  The confusion brought upon by being taught a certain subject but not being able to fully understand it creates the perplexity complex and forces people to try and learn just what it is they are perplexed about and as a result, gain knowledge by obtaining missing information.  For example, in the text, Socrates attempts to break down this perplexity when he says “I still want the two of us to try to find out what [being good] is” (80d).  The perplexity is represented by the state of what it means to be good and it plays the role of encouraging Socrates and Meno to figure it out.  Therefore, perplexity influences the increase of knowledge by creating a window of unknown that has yet to be discovered and learned. 

One response to “Examining the Role of “Perplexity”

  1. I agree with your belief that perplexity can encourage people to bridge the gap between what they know and what they do not know; however, on the contrary, I also think that confusion can, in certain situations, frustrate to the point of making people abandon the search for new knowledge. Perplexity’s duality cannot be attributed to any excerpt from The Republic; however, I believe that it serves as both an motivation and hindrance just based off life experience. I think that most people can attest to having reached a place one time or another where they have become so confused that they just gave up. Therefore, bewilderment can sometimes impede the search for knowledge.

    Whether perplexity serves as an encouragement or impediment depends on the type of person who is confused on their search for knowledge and the kind of question being pursued. Very motivated individuals are more likely to push through when they are confused, whereas less motivated people are less likely to stick to it when the going gets tough. Additionally, the difficulty of the question and the importance of finding the answer weigh in to whether or not an individual pushes through such confusion in order to obtain the truth.

    In conclusion, I believe that perplexity can both encourage and discourage the pursuit of new knowledge. While Socrates chooses to examine the way in which perplexity allows people to bridge the gap between what they know versus what they do not know, others would focus on how confusion or bewilderment can sometimes grow so strong that the pursuit of new information is discarded. It all depends on the perspective of the person in search of the answer to his or her question.

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