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Explain Plato's Form of the Good

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a) Explain Plato's Form of the Good Plato believed that the world we around us is an illusion, and that everyday things that we take for granted are merely weak imitations of the true object behind it. He believed that behind every earthly object, and every earthly concept (e.g. beauty), there is an unearthly truth; a perfect version. He believed that there was a place where everything that is, has been, or ever will be in existence in kept, and that is how we know that a pen is a pen, a chair is a chair. This he believed, was the only possible explanation to the philosophical question: 'What makes a thing, the thing that it is?' Plato believed in the soul- the only part of a human that yields any importance or relevance. He believed that it was once, (before we were born), free to roam the World of the Forms, and now that it is in our world, held prisoner in our bodies, it longs to go back. Whilst I in the World of Forms, the soul had access to true knowledge, and everything that we 'know' today, is just remembering what we have already learnt. ...read more.


Their whole lives, all they have seen are shadows, so that is what they accept and believe to be 'real'. Our mistake, just like the prisoners' is that we are relying on our sense experiences. The shadows represent the illusion created to fool us in to believing what we sense is real. This however is not the case, as we can gain no true knowledge from sense experience. The cave is said to represent both the visible world, and the body in which the soul is entrapped. The escape, and journey into the outside world, represents the philosophers' discovery of true knowledge. Though it is a long and painful one, no one who has discovered and acquired true knowledge would ever want to go back to their former, ignorant self. This leads on to perhaps the most important piece of symbolism of the analogy: the Sun. The Sun represents the Form of the Good, the most perfect of all realities. When a person gains true knowledge of this, they are able to understand everything else; just like everything depends on the sun for existence in our world, in the World of Forms, everything relies on the Form of the Good. ...read more.


One thing cannot be more real than another. This means that one of the underlying statements of the theory, that the World of Forms is more real than our visible world, is impossible. If it is impossible then the whole theory would fall to pieces. The huge separation between the two worlds makes it hard to believe that we could ever gain knowledge of the World of Forms. Why should we believe in a world that we can gain no knowledge of, cannot fully understand, can never reach, and cannot even prove if or why it exists, because one man decided that it does? As well as a lot of criticisms, there are also some arguments to support the theory. We automatically know that a chair is a chair. But why? A chair is something you sit on, but sitting on a table doesn't make it a chair. They are often made from wood, but not always. They usually have four legs, but a chair with three legs is still a chair. Two chairs can look completely dissimilar, yet we still somehow know a chair, when we see one. The theory of forms is one of the few that address this question, and satisfactorily answer it. ...read more.

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