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Plato's Theory of the Forms

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Plato's theory of the forms

Plato came up with his theory of the forms when he noticed that everyone had their own opinion about beauty. We can see beautiful things in the world, a beautiful flower, car, person or house. But what is beautiful itself? Does beauty itself have a form? Plato believed that our knowledge is innate; an innate quality or ability is one that you were born with, not one you have learned. He argues that we are not born without knowledge already. It's not just beauty but everything seems to have a form. For example, tables can come in different shapes, sizes, colours and textures; they are all tables but in different forms. He believed that there is a hierarchy of forms, yes there is beauty and perfection but there is one form above all else; the form of the good. People could say that God is the form of the good. All the forms flows down from the form of the good; like the Sun provides for nourishment and growth, the form of the good provides order and structure to reality.

The allegory of the cave; when the prisoner is released and sees the real world, to him this is the forms of his world. It's perfect for him. When he was in the cave he would never have thought how the real world is. When he was in the cave the real world would be metaphysical to him; he represents us and the shadows in the cave represent our real world. Plato argued that there was another reality that was metaphysical to us. Like the prisoners, we can never know what is real until we are released from the "chains". Eikasia is the thing stopping us from seeing the real world or reality. In this true reality, there are the forms.

"And we say that the particulars are objects of sight but not of intelligence, while the forms are the objects of intelligence but not of sight" - The Republic 507b

If a form is unchanging it is indivisible; how then can it be in each individual dog whilst remaining indivisible?

How does the perfect ideal merge itself with its perfect copy?

Plato's theory commits him to limitless forms. Is there a "perfect" form for death?

In conclusion, I believe that there can be forms for some things, but not everything; like death. Personally I believe that there could be another thing we don't know beyond our senses, but it doesn't matter because we are living fine without knowing. If we needed to know it or if we "already" knew it, I think someone or we would of known it by now.



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