Theory of Forms Essay

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Theory of Forms

Definition. What is Philosophy? There are a number of definitions of philosophy given by many thinkers and they vary according to their interests and orientations. Generally, philosophy is regarded as perhaps the most obstruse and abstract of all subjects that seems apart from ordinary life. Although quiet a number of people may think of it as a being remote from every normal interest, it may be inferred that all of us have some philosophical views, whether we are aware of it or not. Most often, the term appears vague for it has been a part of our conversations. Origin.

The word “philosophy” is derived from the Greek “philia” meaning “love” and “sophia” meaning “wisdom” or “knowledge”. The literal definition of philosophy, therefore, is “love of wisdom”. In current popular usage, many different ideas are involved in the manner we use the term. In some cases, philosophy refers to an attitude toward certain activities. For instance, during election, we often hear some people say, we are voting for a certain candidate because we favour for his philosophy of government. In classes in philosophy, the most common question the teacher asks is what the philosophy of student is.

The popular conception of philosophy, in spite of many ways we may use the term, is a complex intellectual undertaking. Regardless of the various ideas of the role of philosophy in one’s life, its importance cannot be overemphasized. Parent Science. Philosophy may be considered as the “parent science”, in that it has given birth to natural, physical, and social sciences. These disciplines continue to provide philosophy with an abundance of contemporary issues, questions, that are seemingly difficult to answer. Philosophy is both independent fro other disciplines and embedded in their foundations and on-going activities.

Philosophy as a science. Philosophy has been defined as a science because it deals with the study of the processes governing thought and conduct. It investigates the principles and laws that regulate the universe and underlie all knowledge, which satisfies the requisites of scientific state of knowing. Science has been defined as a body of systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experiments carried out in order to determine the nature of principles of what is being studied. Its main concern is the discovery of truth.

The difference between the two fields of knowledge lies in the scope and nature of their interest and their approach. While specific sciences deal particularly with restricted field, e. g. , chemistry, philosophy deals with all aspects of man’s experiences. The interest of science is limited to the physical world, while the concern of philosophy issues on justice, conscience, reason, the soul and the Supernatural Being. The science approach to any investigation is establishing and systematizing facts, principles, and methods through experiments and hypotheses, while the approach of philosophy in its object of study is encompassing.

Science tends to eliminate the persona factor and values in the quest for objectivity, while philosophy is interested in human experiences, personal values and purposes. Science is primarily concerned with the nature of things as they are, while philosophy is interested not only in the real aspects but alos in their worth and meaning. The aim of science is to observe nature and to control processes, while philosophy criticizes, evaluates and integrates the various dimensions of human experience. Philosophy as a science carefully examines and criticizes the premises and conclusions of all sciences-physical, natural, and social.

Some propositions have been made by the sciences which, when examined carefully, may be found too impossible to attain or to prove. Philosophy synthesizes and compares the assumptions and conclusions of the difficult findings of the different sciences when they appear to be contradictory. Philosophy harmonizes and brings the sciences together to complement and support one another. THREE MAJOR FIELDS OF PHILOSOPHY The three major fields of philosophy are: (1) epistemology, (2) metaphysics, and (3) axiology. Epistemology.

Epistemology deals with the study of origin, structures, methods, nature, limit and veracity (truth, reliability, validity) of human knowledge. It also includes logic and a variety of linguistic concerns and the philosophy of science. The word “epistemology” is derived from the Greek word “episteme” which means “knowledge” and “logos” which means “the study of”. Epistemology as a theory of knowledge asks fundamental questions about knowledge in all its forms and applications of how it is formulated and expressed and communicated.

It also looks into the role of sense experience and how knowledge is acquired. Metaphysics. Metaphysics deals with questions of reality-its nature, meaning and existence. The word “metaphysics” is derived from the Greek word “meta” which “beyond” and “physikon” which means “nature” from which is derived the word physics, the science whish deals with matter, energy, force, natural laws and processes. Metaphysics is also concerned about the nature mind, self and consciousness, the nature of religion, such as the existence of God, the destiny of the universe, and the immortality of the soul.

Aside from the nature of reality and the universe, metaphysics examines time, space, cause and chance. Axiology. Axiology deals into the study of values. It analyzes the origin, types and characteristics, criteria and knowledge of values. It includes values of human conduct, the nature and justification of social structures and political systems and the nature of art and its meaning in human experience. THE BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY Philosophy has several branches which resulted from man’s philosophical speculations.

Each branch endeavours to provide us with useful insights into certain realities. The following are the fundamental philosophical fields of study: 1. Ethics or moral philosophy. This is the philosophical study of the morality of human acts, the search for an understanding of the good life and the ultimate basis of what is good or bad. 2. Metaphysics or ontology. This is the philosophical quest for what reality is in the final analysis. It is the study of beings in general. 3. Theology/Theodicy. This is the philosophical inquiry into the existence of God.

His nature and his relations to man and the rest of creation. 4. Philosophy of man. This is the philosophical search for a deeper understanding of what man is and what it means to be fully human. 5. Cosmology. This is the philosophical search for a deeper understanding of the material universe. 6. Political philosophy. This is the philosophical search for knowledge of the ultimate foundation of the state, its ideal form and its basic power. 7. Aesthetics. This is the search for a deeper understanding and knowledge of beauty. 8. Epistemology.

This is the philosophical search for answers to the fundamental questions concerning the conditions of knowledge, its extent and limitations. deeper understanding 9. Logic. This is the philosophical science and art of correct inferential thinking and setting forth its conditions. 10. Psychology. This is the science that deals with the science of mind, mental state and processes. The philosophical concept “psychology” came from the Greek words “psyche” which means “soul”, “mind”, and “spirit”, and “logos” which means “the study of”. To the Greeks, psychology is the study of the soul. Part 2. THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE.

THALES Thales was the first known philosopher, scientist and mathematician although his occupation was that of an engineer. He is believed to have been the teacher of Anaximander (611 BC – 545 BC) and he was the first natural philosopher in the Milesian School. Thales first went to Egypt and thence introduced this study [geometry] into Greece. He discovered many propositions himself, and instructed his successors in the principles underlying many others, his method of attacking problems had greater generality in some cases and was more in the nature of simple inspection and observation in other cases.

Certainly Thales was a figure of enormous prestige, being the only philosopher before Socrates to be among the Seven Sages. Plutarch, writing of these Seven Sages, says that: Thales was apparently the only one of these whose wisdom stepped, in speculation, beyond the limits of practical utility, the rest acquired the reputation of wisdom in politics. It is reported that Thales predicted an eclipse of the Sun in 585 BC. The cycle of about 19 years for eclipses of the Moon was well known at this time but the cycle for eclipses of the Sun was harder to spot since eclipses were visible at different places on Earth.

Thales’s prediction of the 585 BC eclipse was probably a guess based on the knowledge that an eclipse around that time was possible. The claims that Thales used the Babylonian saros, a cycle of length 18 years 10 days 8 hours, to predict the eclipse has been shown by Neugebauer to be highly unlikely since Neugebauer shows that the saros was an invention of Halley. Neugebauer wrote: … there exists no cycle for solar eclipses visible at a given place: all modern cycles concern the earth as a whole.

No Babylonian theory for predicting a solar eclipse existed at 600 BC, as one can see from the very unsatisfactory situation 400 years later, nor did the Babylonians ever develop any theory which took the influence of geographical latitude into account. ANAXIMANDER Anaximander (610 – c. 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia; Milet in modern Turkey. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. He succeeded Thales and became the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and arguably, Pythagoras amongst his pupils.

Anaximander was one of the earliest Greek thinkers at the start of the Axial Age, the period from approximately 700 BC to 200 BC, during which similarly revolutionary thinking appeared in China, India, Iran, the Near East, and Ancient Greece. He was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long. Like many thinkers of his time, Anaximander’s contributions to philosophy relate to many disciplines.

In astronomy, he tried to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth. In physics, his postulation that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things led Greek philosophy to a new level of conceptual abstraction. His knowledge of geometry allowed him to introduce the gnomon in Greece. He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography. He was also involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies. Anaximander claimed that an “indefinite” (apeiron) principle gives rise to all natural phenomena.

Anaximander’s theories were influenced by the Greek mythical tradition, and by some ideas of Thales – the father of philosophy – as well as by observations made by older civilizations in the East (especially by the Babylonian astrologists). All these were elaborated rationally. The basic elements of nature (water, air, fire, earth) which the first Greek philosophers believed that constituted the universe represent in fact the primordial forces of previous thought. Their collision produced what the mythical tradition had called cosmic harmony.


While his predecessors Thales and Anaximander proposed that the arche, the underlying material of the world, were water and the ambiguous substance apeiron, respectively, Anaximenes asserted that air was this primary substance of which all other things are made. While the choice of air may seem arbitrary, he based his conclusion on naturally observable phenomena in the process of rarefaction and condensation. When air condenses it becomes visible, as mist and then rain and other forms of precipitation, and as the condensed air cools Anaximenes supposed that it went on to form earth and ultimately stones.

In contrast, water evaporates into air which ignites and produces flame when further rarefied. While other philosophers also recognized such transitions in states of matter, Anaximenes was the first to associate the quality pairs hot/dry and cold/wet with the density of a single material and add a quantitative dimension to the Milesian monistic system. The Origin of the Cosmos. Having concluded that everything in the world is composed of air, Anaximenes then used his theory to devise a scheme explaining the origins and nature of the earth as well as of the surrounding celestial bodies.

Air felted to create the flat disk of the earth, which he said was table-like and behaved like a leaf floating on air. In keeping with the prevailing view of celestial bodies as balls of fire in the sky, Anaximenes proposed that the earth let out an exhalation of air that rarefied, ignited and became the stars. While the sun is similarly described as being aflame, it is not composed of rarefied air like the stars but rather of earth like the moon; its burning comes not from its composition but rather from its rapid motion.

The moon and sun are likewise considered to be flat and floating on streams of air, and when the sun sets it does not pass under the earth but is merely obscured by higher parts of the earth as it circles around and becomes more distant; the motion of the sun and the other celestial bodies around the earth is likened by Anaximenes to the way that a cap may be turned around the head. PYTAGORAS (The Mathematical Basis of All Things) Across a span of water from Miletus, located in the Aegean Sea, was the small island of Samos, which was the birthplace of a truly extraordinary and wise man, Pythagoras.

From the various scraps of information we have about him and those who were his followers, an incomplete but still fascinating picture of his new philosophic reflections emerges. Apparently dissatisfied with conditions not only on Samos but generally in Ionia during the tyrannical rule of the rich Polycrates, Pythagoras migrated to southern Italy and settled there in the prosperous Greek city of Crotone, where his active philosophic life is usually dated from 525 to 500 B. C.

We are told by Aristotle that “the Pythagoreans devoted themselves to mathematics, they were the first to advance this study, and having been brought up in it they thought its principles were the principles of all things. . . In contrast to the Miletians, the Pythagoreans that things consist of numbers. Although, it is quite strange to say that everything consists of numbers, the strangeness, as well as the difficulty, of this doctrine is greatly overcome when we consider why Pythagoras became interested in numbers and what his conception of numbers was.

Pythagoras became interested in Mathematics for what appear to be religious reasons. His originality could be said to consist in his conviction that the study of mathematics is the best purifier of the soul. He is, therefore, referred to as the founder of both of religious sect and the same time a school of mathematics. What gave rise to the Pythagorean sect was people’s yearning for a deeply spiritual religion that could provide the means for purifying the soul and for guaranteeing its immortality. Part 3. THE PROCESS OF THE UNIVERSE HERACLITUS Nature identified with fire.

The Universality of change. The logos and Human Nature. Substance that holds everything is fire. Logos or universal reason. Fire is the process of change that which is fed into it becomes something else. Fire is not a random movement but God’s universal reason, the fire that is the unity holding everything together PARMENIDES Goddess. Logical method. What is, is and what is not, is not. A poem that reveals to him the plain truth and the deceptive beliefs of human beings A method that depends entirely on thought and not at all on experiment and observation only that can be which can be thought for.

Thought exists for the sake of what is. Therefore, change is the confusion of appearance with reality and therefore change is simply an illusion. EMPEDOCLES Four elements. Love and strife. Earth, fire, air and water were considered as equally original. Love and strife, attraction and repulsion are two different forces at work in nature . Love binds things together and strife separate them. ANAXAGORAS Invisible particles that are the building blocks of nature. A miniscule particles that carry the blue print of everything else that distinguished the mind from matter.

Matter is continuum, infinitely divisible and that, however, much it may be divided, each part will contain elements of everything else. Mind the cause of all things. Mind is the principle that gives matter its order. THE ATOMISTS Believed that everything in nature was made of tiny invisible particles or units called atoms Part 4. THE CONCEPT OF TRUTH KNOWLEDGE SOPHISTS’ CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE THE SOPHISTS The term sophist (sophistes) derives from the Greek words for wisdom (sophia) and wise (sophos). The term sophia could be used to describe disingenuous cleverness long before the rise of the sophistic movement.

In the fifth century B. C. E. the term sophistes was still broadly applied to ‘wise men’, including poets such as Homer and Hesiod, the Seven Sages, the Ionian ‘physicists’ and a variety of seers and prophets. The narrower use of the term to refer to professional teachers of virtue or excellence (arete) became prevalent in the second half of the fifth century B. C. E. , although this should not be taken to imply the presence of a clear distinction between philosophers, such as Socrates, and sophists, such as Protagoras, Gorgias and Prodicus.

This much is evident from Aristophanes’ play The Clouds (423 B. C. E.), in which Socrates is depicted as a sophist and Prodicus praised for his wisdom. 1. Sophists a. Protagoras. Protagoras of Abdera (c. 490-420 B. C. E. ) was the most prominent member of the sophistic movement and Plato reports he was the first to charge fees using that title (Protagoras, 349a). Despite his animus towards the sophists, Plato depicts Protagoras as quite a sympathetic and dignified figure. From a philosophical perspective, Protagoras is most famous for his relativistic account of truth – in particular the claim that ‘man is the measure of all things’ – and his agnosticism concerning the Gods.

Plato suggests that Protagoras sought to differ his educational offering from that of other sophists, such as Hippias, by concentrating upon instruction in arete in the sense of political virtue rather than specialised studies such as astronomy and mathematics (Protagoras, 318e). b. Gorgias. Gorgias of Leontini (c. 485 – c. 390 B. C. E. ) is generally considered as a member of the sophistic movement, despite his disavowal of the capacity to teach arete (Meno, 96c).

The major focus of Gorgias was rhetoric and given the importance of persuasive speaking to the sophistic education, and his acceptance of fees, it is appropriate to consider him alongside other famous sophists for present purposes. c. Antiphon. The biographical details surrounding Antiphon the sophist (c. 470-411 B. C. ) are unclear – one unresolved issue is whether he should be identified with Antiphon of Rhamnus (a statesman and teacher of rhetoric who was a member of the oligarchy which held power in Athens briefly in 411 B. C. E. ).

However, since the publication of fragments from his On Truth in the early twentieth century he has been regarded as a major representative of the sophistic movement. d. Hippias. The exact dates for Hippias of Elis are unknown, but scholars generally assume that he lived during the same period as Protagoras. Whereas Plato’s depictions of Protagoras – and to a lesser extent Gorgias – indicate a modicum of respect, he presents Hippias as a comic figure who is obsessed with money, pompous and confused. Hippias is best known for his polymathy (DK 86A14).

His areas of expertise seem to have included astronomy, grammar, history, mathematics, music, poetry, prose, rhetoric, painting and sculpture. Like Gorgias and Prodicus, he served as an ambassador for his home city. His work as a historian, which included compiling lists of Olympic victors, was invaluable to Thucydides and subsequent historians as it allowed for a more precise dating of past events. In mathematics he is attributed with the discovery of a curve – the quadratrix – used to trisect an angle. e. Prodicus.

Prodicus of Ceos, who lived during roughly the same period as Protagoras and Hippias, is best known for his subtle distinctions between the meanings of words. He is thought to have written a treatise titled On the Correctness of Names. Prodicus’ epideictic speech, The Choice of Heracles, was singled out for praise by Xenophon (Memorabilia, II. 1. 21-34) and in addition to his private teaching he seems to have served as an ambassador for Ceos (the birthplace of Simonides) on several occasions. f. Thrasymachus. Thrasymachus was a well-known rhetorician in Athens in the latter part of the fifth century B.

C. E. , but our only surviving record of his views is contained in Plato’s Cleitophon and Book One of The Republic. He is depicted as brash and aggressive, with views on the nature of justice that will be examined in section 3a. 2. Major Themes of Sophistic Thought a. Nature and Convention. The distinction between physis (nature) and nomos (custom, law, convention) was a central theme in Greek thought in the second half of the fifth century B. C. E. and is especially important for understanding the work of the sophists.

Before turning to sophistic considerations of these concepts and the distinction between them, it is worth sketching the meaning of the Greek terms. The term nomos refers to a wide range of normative concepts extending from customs and conventions to positive law. It would be misleading to regard the term as referring only to arbitrary human conventions, as Heraclitus’ appeal to the distinction between human nomoi and the one divine nomos (DK 22B2 and 114) makes clear. The dichotomy between physis and nomos seems to have been something of a commonplace of sophistic thought and was appealed to by Protagoras and Hippias among others.

Perhaps the most instructive sophistic account of the distinction, however, is found in Antiphon’s fragment On Truth. b. Relativism. The primary source on sophistic relativism about knowledge and/or truth is Protagoras’ famous ‘man is the measure’ statement. Interpretation of Protagoras’ thesis has always been a matter of controversy. Caution is needed in particular against the temptation to read modern epistemological concerns into Protagoras’ account and sophistic teaching on the relativity of truth more generally.

A human being is the measure of all things, of those things that are, that they are, and of those things that are not, that they are not. There is near scholarly consensus that Protagoras is referring here to each human being as the measure of what is rather than ‘humankind’ as such, although the Greek term for ‘human’ –hoanthropos– certainly does not rule out the second interpretation. Plato’s Theaetetus (152a), however, suggests the first reading and I will assume its correctness here.

On this reading we can regard Protagoras as asserting that if the wind, for example, feels (or seems) cold to me and feels (or seems) warm to you, then the wind is cold for me and is warm for you. c. Language and Reality. Understandably given their educational program, the sophists placed great emphasis upon the power of speech (logos). Logos is a notoriously difficult term to translate and can refer to thought and that about which we speak and think as well as rational speech or language. The sophists were interested in particular with the role of human discourse in the shaping of reality. 3.

The Distinction Between Philosophy and Sophistry The distinction between philosophy and sophistry is in itself a difficult philosophical problem. The terms ‘philosopher’ and ‘sophist’ were disputed in the fifth and fourth century B. C. E. , the subject of contention between rival schools of thought. Histories of philosophy tend to begin with the Ionian ‘physicist’ Thales, but the presocratics referred to the activity they were engaged in as historia (inquiry) rather than philosophia and although it may have some validity as a historical projection, the notion that philosophy begins with Thales derives from the mid nineteenth century.

It was Plato who first clearly and consistently refers to the activity of philosophia and much of what he has to say is best understood in terms of an explicit or implicit contrast with the rival schools of the sophists and Isocrates (who also claimed the title philosophia for his rhetorical educational program). SOCRATES Socratic Method Socrates was not a “philosopher,” nor yet a “teacher,” but rather an “educator,” having for his functionSocrates to rouse, persuade and rebuke (Plato, Apology).

Hence, in examining his life’s work it is proper to ask, not What was his philosophy? but What was his theory, and what was his practice of education? It is true that he was brought to his theory of education by the study of previous philosophies, and that his practice led to the Platonic revival; but to attribute to him philosophy, except in that loose sense in which philosophy is ascribed to one who, denying the existence of such a thing, can give an account of his disbelief, is misleading and even erroneous.

Socrates’ theory of education had for its basis a profound and consistent skepticism; that is to say, he not only rejected the conflicting theories of the physicists, of whom “some conceived existence as a unity, others as a plurality; some affirmed perpetual motion, others perpetual rest; some declared becoming and perishing to be universal, others altogether denied such things, “but also condemned, as a futile attempt to transcend the limitations of human intelligence their, “pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.

” That it was in this way that Socrates was brought to regard “dialectic,” “question and answer,” as the only admissible method of education is no matter of mere conjecture.

In the review of theories of knowledge which has come down to us in Plato’s Theaetetus mention is made of certain “incomplete Protagoreans,” who held that, while all opinions are equally true, one opinion is better than another, and that the “wise man” is one who by his arguments causes good opinions to take the place of bad ones, thus reforming the soul of the individual or the laws of a state by a process similar to that of the physician or the farmer; and these “incomplete Protagoreans” are identified with Socrates and the Socratics by their insistence upon the characteristically Socratic distinction between disputation and dialectic, as well as by other familiar traits of Socratic converse.

In fact, this passage becomes intelligible and significant if it is supposed to refer to the historical Socrates; and by teaching us to regard him as an “incomplete Protagorean” it supplies the link which connects his philosophical skepticism with his dialectical theory of education. It is no doubt possible that Socrates was unaware of the closeness of his relationship to Protagoras; but the fact, once stated, hardly admits of question. Knowledge and action Socrates teaches that a man “must know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible”.

In education, Socrates asks us to consider the effect of either an exclusive devotion to gymnastics or an exclusive devotion to music. It either “produced a temper of hardness and ferocity, (or) the other of softness and effeminacy”. Having both qualities, he believed, produces harmony; i. e. , beauty and goodness. He additionally stresses the importance of mathematics in education for the understanding of beauty and truth. PLATO Theory of forms The Problems theory was meant to solve: (1) The Ethical Problem: How can humans live a fulfilling, happy life in a contingent, changing world where every thing they attach themselves to can be taken away?

(2) The Problem of Permanence and Change: How can the world appear to be both permanent and changing? The world we perceive through the senses seems to be always changing. The world that we perceive through the mind, using our concepts, seems to be permanent and unchanging. Which is most real and why does it appear both ways?

The general structure of the solution: Plato splits up existence into two realms: the material realm and the transcendent realm of forms. Humans have access to the realm of forms through the mind, through reason, given Plato’s theory of the subdivisions of the human soul. This gives them access to an unchanging world, invulnerable to the pains and changes of the material world.

By detaching ourselves from the material world and our bodies and developing our ability to concern ourselves with the forms, we find a value which is not open to change or disintegration. This solves the first, ethical, problem. Splitting existence up into two realms also solves the problem of permanence and change.

We perceive a different world, with different objects, through our mind than we do through the senses. It is the material world, perceived through the senses, that is changing. It is the realm of forms, perceived through the mind, that is permanent and immutable. It is this world that is more real; the world of change is merely an imperfect image of this world. The Forms: A form is an abstract property or quality.

Take any property of an object; separate it from that object and consider it by itself, and you are contemplating a form. For example, if you separate the roundness of a basketball from its color, its weight, etc. and consider just roundness by itself, you are thinking of the form of roundness. Plato held that this property existed apart from the basketball, in a different mode of existence than the basketball. The form is not just the idea of roundness you have in your mind. It exists independently of the basketball and independently of whether someone thinks of it. All round objects, not just this basketball, participate or copy this same form of roundness.

In order to see exactly what a form is and how it differs from a material object, we need to look at the first two of the properties that characterize the forms. The forms are transcendent. This means that they do not exist in space and time. A material object, a basketball, exists at a particular place at a particular time. A form, roundness, does not exist at any place or time.

The forms exist, or subsist, in a different way. This is especially important because it explains why the forms are unchanging. A form such as roundness will never change; it does not even exist in time. It is the same at all times or places in which it might be instantiated.

A form does not exist in space in that it can be instantiated in many places at once and need not be instantiated anywhere in order for the form to exist. The form of roundness can be found in many particular spatial locations, and even if all round objects were destroyed, the property of roundness would still exist. The forms are also pure.

This means that they are pure properties separated from all other properties. A material object, such as a basketball, has many properties: roundness, ballness, orangeness, elasticity, etc. These are all put together to make up this individual basketball. A form is just one of these properties, existing by itself apart from space and time. Roundness is just pure roundness, without any other properties mixed in.

The forms differ from material objects, then, in that they are transcendent and pure, while material objects are complex conglomerations of properties located in space and time. The forms are causes in two closely related ways: (1) The forms are the causes of all our knowledge of all objects. The forms contribute all order and intelligibility to objects. Since we can only know something insofar as it has some order or form, the forms are the source of the intelligibility of all material objects. (2) The forms are also the cause of the existence of all objects.

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