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Explain Plato's Theory of Forms

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Plato, perhaps the most significant Greek philosopher of all time developed on Socrates' belief of standards by maintaining a theory of Forms. For Plato, the Forms compliment knowledge, intelligence and dialect. These Forms were believed by Plato to be separate from the visible world and exist in an unseen eternal omnipotent world As a result of the physical world being subject to constant change; Plato sought to find truth which existed in another realm.

The realm that Plato sought to find truth in is called the Realm of Forms believing that there is a perfect model, form or ideal that exists for every concept or object which exists in the visible world. As an example, Plato believed that an object such as a dog is a mimicking copy of the Form of dog, an inferior replica which only portrays the traits that the perfect and unchanging Form of dog has. Because a dog in the visible world contains elements of the Form of dog, humans are able to recognise it as a dog because it has a sense of 'dogness' from the Form. The same would apply for the concept of beauty only slightly differently. We only consider something to be beautiful because we have developed an opinion of what beauty consists of. Because beauty is an ambiguous term it is difficult to define and so we allow our opinions and opinions developed by others to define it for us. The underlying traits of the Form of Beauty contribute to our recognition, however, if we knew the Form of Beauty we would know exactly what beauty is.

The Forms are absolutes and do not change; they exist in the Realm of the Forms which is separate from the visible world which is subject to change. We as people can never reach the Forms; however, we can aim for them as well as understand them. Plato's Theory of Forms symbolise his belief that the visible world is in fact not the real world. One key item that Plato believed to be essential with the Forms is the study of mathematics as it adds to the road of understanding the Forms. For this very reason, Plato defied art, paintings or any attempt to express beauty as he believed that they would be wasting their time producing pale imitations of beauty.

The highest of all Forms is the Form of the Good. It is sometimes regarded as the 'Form of the Forms' to show its superiority over other Forms. In Plato's Analogy of the Cave, the sun outside of the cave represents this. The function of the Form of the Good is to illuminate all Forms. Once the Form of the Good is understood it will enable Forms such as Justice and Truth to be understood as they contain aspects of goodness themselves.

Plato believed that our souls pre-existed and were immortal because they had once seen the Realm of Forms. This means that by seeing an physical object such as a dog, it makes us recollect what our souls had seen in the Realm of Forms. Plato maintained that knowledge required recollection and



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