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Plato's Theory of Forms.

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Introduction

Plato's Theory of Forms The Theory of Forms, also known as the Theory of Ideas, is perhaps the most well known aspect of Plato's philosophy. I am not terribly well versed on the writings of Plato, but I know just enough to get by. For example, I know that there are all kinds of breeds of dogs in the world, each of varying size and have drastically different sounding barks - but the concept of dog will always remain constant and that when I think of the idea of dog, the tangible item that comes to mind is never a cat. Plato was an advocatedof open discussion of ideas rather than the commitment of any one given idea as truth. It was such open mindedness that kept him away from that dangerous spiral of silence that so many slip down for fear of being ridiculed. . . But, then again, what do I know? I learned much more about Plato's Theory of Forms while on my quest for knowledge so now I am much more enlightened; I hope. ...read more.

Middle

For example what all chairs have in common and reflect is the essence of being a chair, and is the form: chair. The highest form is the form of the good, so the highest form of knowledge is knowledge of the good. 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. They do not exist in space and time. A material object, a basketball, for example, exists at a particular place at a particular time. A form on the other hand, such as roundness, does not exist at any place or time. The forms exist, 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. The form of roundness can be found in many particular locations, and even if all round objects were destroyed, the property of roundness would still exist. ...read more.

Conclusion

Plato makes it clear that the reason is a higher faculty than intellect. Certainly he maintains the training of the intellect is an essential pursuit if an individual is to gain access to his reason, but so too is gymnastics and music. The fact that so much of Plato's writing is concerned with imagery points to creative imagination as also being a pathway to the higher reason. It is important to realize that the Theory of Forms is a hypothesis that is proven by the process of inference to best explain it. It is a grand image that identifies levels of reality, and metaphysical functionalities that Plato reasoned must exist, to make any sense of the world. The actual mechanical processes involved are only defined in a very abstract manner, but even here, the theory has a counter, in that man cannot presume to understand the physiology of the Gods. The facts that the theory is expounded over such a vast expanse in the text of the thirty-two dialogues, and that Plato often allows himself to develop an image or allegory to a point of apparent contradiction, have made it easy for later thinkers to construct criticisms based on a few words taken in isolation. ...read more.

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