Plato believed that reality is more than what we sense around the world (e. g. taste, smell, hear, see and touch), he believed that behind these physical realities lies a perfect version of them in which he called Forms and that the greatest thing we can learn is to have knowledge and understanding of them. Plato’s theory means that what we can sense around us (for example a chair) is just a mere shadow of the perfect version which exists in the world of Forms.
The perfect version of a chair is one in which for fills its purpose e. g.to be comfortable and to be sat on. Plato believed that everything had a perfect Form, from objects such as pens and books to things such as beauty and justice. He believed that to experience the world of Forms we had to become perfect philosophers. Plato introduced the ‘Analogy of the cave’ to try and illustrate that human being live and only understand a realm of shadows. Within this explanation Plato used many objects as symbols or metaphors to describe the true meaning of forms, for example, The sun is seen as the Form of Good.
Plato describes the world of Forms as ‘unchanging’ in the fact that everything that has yet to be invented in the world of senses already exists in the world of Forms as its perfect version. Plato also believes that that quality’s, such as truth, beauty and justice, all have a universal existence, a reality of their own and Plato believes that we have an innate knowledge of their true Forms. They act ad s cause, source, or necessary, a primary condition for the existence of secondary objects (such as chairs) and actions in the world.
To what extent is it true to say that the Forms teach us nothing about the real world? There are many reasons agreeing with this statement, one of those reasons is the Regression that Plato’s theory doesn’t explain. For example, if we take a perfect form of a dog than what will that dog look like? And in that sense is there a perfect form for a three-legged dog, or a three-legged spotty dog, or a three-legged spotty dog with pointy ears and so on.
This can be traced backwards to every single item that is in the real world creating an infinite regression, and therefore we have to ask ourselves, how big is the world of Forms? Another reason why is it true to say that Forms teach us nothing about the real world is the queries’ of the Form of evil. If the Forms are perfect versions and what we have in the world of our senses are just mere shadows, how much worse can the evil get? And do we therefore really want to thrive to become the perfect philosopher if it means experiencing that?
For example, if Hitler caused so much pain and suffering to so many people during the Holocaust, do we really want to go through that but of a worse/bigger scale in the world of Forms? And also in what form are is the evil in? In the form of famine and disease, murder and genesis or something much worse. Aristotle, another famous philosopher, argued against Plato’s well-known theory of Forms and stated that what we seen and experience is material whilst universals are only abstract projections of this.
This completely contradicts Plato’s theory and so do many other philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. However, whilst it is possible that one of these theories are right there is no evidence to support it which is another one of the theories floors. Another common criticism of Plato’s theory is that although the Form of good has had an influence of Christian teachings and theology, it is extremely difficult to see how Plato’s theory helps people to live or explain the world around them.
Many Christians also find it hard to accept that Gods purpose of life was merely to become a great philosopher, and therefore reach the world of Forms. There are many criticisms about Plato’s theory of Forms however many agreeing with the theory as well, and with any theory it cannot be prove. Unless we die knowing we are perfect philosophers we will never know however Plato’s theory is well studied even today.
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