Explain Platos concept of the Forms. To what extent is it true to say that the forms teach us nothing about the physical world?

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Philosophy Essay Milestone

a) Explain Plato’s concept of the ‘Forms’. (25)
b) To what extent is it true to say that the forms teach us nothing about the physical world? (10)

a) Plato’s concept of Forms is a long winded and complicated affair however it was and still is a huge pillar in the development of modern philosophy. Plato himself was a dualist, which means that he believed in two ‘distinct elements’ of the body, being the mind or soul, and the physical body, in which the mind is completely immaterial. These are the core beginnings of Plato’s concept of the Forms.

The ‘Forms’ themselves are basically a person’s idea of the perfect ‘Form’ of an object. For example, if we look at a chair, we look at it and instantly know that it is a chair. However it is not that simple.  According to Plato’s concept of the Forms, when we look at a chair, we instantly compare it to the Form of a chair, and if the object we are looking at (called the Particular) fits and matches the Form of a chair then we will then proceed to identify it as and call it a chair.

It, again though, is not as simple as it seems! Plato’s concept of Forms suggests that all the Forms exist in a separate world to the physical world, called the world of the Forms. The world we live in and experience is called the world of appearances, whereas the world of the Forms can also be called the world of Reality. When we identify an object we compare it to its Form in the world of Forms. However, nothing can be a perfect replica of its form. Therefore everything in the world of appearances is but an imperfect replica of its form.

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One way in which Plato portrayed his concept of the Forms was with the analogy of Plato’s cave. Plato drew up an analogy of a cave. In the cave, four prisoners are chained completely still, only able to see a screen that is in front of them. From above, visitors to the cave have made a fire, and are projecting shadows onto the screen in front of the prisoners. To the prisoners, the shadows on the screen are reality, and the noise of the visitors entering and leaving the cave are the only noises they can hear, as well as ...

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