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Platonic Forms

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As Philosophy of Religion Ancient Greek Influences on religious philosophy 1a) Explain the Platonic concept of "forms". (25) Plato was a Greek philosopher who came up with the analogy of the cave. He basically said that we all live in a cave and we can only see the shadows of reality but not reality itself. He states education will enable us to leave the cave and to see the real world, even if we don't believe in the real world, it exists. He believed that physical objects possessed an entity of form which you could try and understand by separating the image of objects in our mind that we know through our senses and the image of a perfect form of the object. The closer we come to identifying the form, the closer we become to reality, but we are still all trapped in the dark cave. The idea of forms. He believed that the world we live in is a material world and we see imperfect copies of ideal forms. But there is also another eternal world which consists of concepts and forms. ...read more.


It can only present appearances which lead us to form opinions rather than knowledge. Socrates asked, 'What is justice', and, 'What is beauty', he wasn't seeking a definition of these words he was looking deeper and trying to find out the essence of these qualities. Plato believed they had a sort of universal existence, a reality of their own. When we see examples of justice in the world, we recognise them as such because we see that they reflect the nature of true justice or the form of justice. When we call something beautiful, it is because we have an innate knowledge of true beauty or the form of beauty. We just know it's beautiful, but everyone has different opinions. Our ideas of justice or beauty are imperfect, we have never witnessed true justice or true beauty but we just know what they are, because knowledge is a kind of recollection. We have an instinctive knowledge of the forms which we are born with. We may say a negative point about someone's look and know they aren't beautiful which we understand as a concept even though we have never seen a perfect example of it. ...read more.


Forms have greater reality than objects in the physical world because they are models and are perfect and unchanging. As ideals, they make physical objects seem real because they resemble the forms, just as the shadows in the Allegory of the Cave, which only had a kind of existence because they resembled the physical objects. Circularity, squareness and triangularity are good examples of what Plato meant by forms. Plato believed the forms where interconnected and that they where all arranged in a hierarchy. The top most important form is the form of the good. Just like the sun in the allegory of the cave, the good illuminates the other forms. And we have never witnessed with our senses an example of perfect goodness. In the end, real knowledge becomes a knowledge of goodness. In the end Plato concluded there must be two worlds. One where we experience and sense, this is also called the empirical world. Nothing ever stays the same within this world, and we only see shadows of the truth and poor copies of the forms. This world is less real than the world of forms, because the forms are immutable and eternal and are the proper objects of knowledge. ...read more.

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