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An Essay On Plato's Theory Of Forms.

1022 words - 4 pages

Plato's theory of forms is strongly based on what is real and what is not. What is real is thought to be perfect, but something cannot be real or perfect if it is always changing. He explains that the "World of forms" is very different to the "World of appearances". The "World of forms" can only be properly understood by philosophers and those who seek knowledge, not by the ignorant or those who do not wish to learn the truth. The theory of forms makes a distinction between those objects that are real and those that are only real in our minds. His dialogues (e.g. Parable of the cave) portray knowledge as the process of leaving the cave and going into the sunlight. The people in the cave find their reality in the shadows cast in the cave and assume there can never be anything beyond these shadows. These shadows symbolise how the world that we see is just a shadow or reflection of what is real. For Plato, the real world is not what we see around us, it is only the "World of forms" that is real and unchanging. This is also known as the " One and many". The "One" being the perfect "World of forms" and the "Many" being the imperfect "World of appearances"Plato approach to the two different/ alternate world is know as dualism. The idea of dualism has had a major effect and has strongly influenced the development of philosophy. Another side to Plato's dualism is the belief in the separation of knowledge and opinion. We seek knowledge but really all we have is opinion. Plato realised the opinion is often mistaken for knowledge, for example, what may be beautiful for one person may be ugly for another. Both people seem to have knowledge, but they are only opinion. These opinions are contradictory, as is everything in the "World of appearances" therefore it is impossible to have any knowledge of them. Plato believed that if someone concerned themselves about beautiful things only has opinions about them, only people who are concerned about beauty itself can posses true knowledge.People who know and understand how to find true knowledge in the world beyond the senses are involved in the "Intelligible World" and those that believe in the senses and opinion are involved in the "Visible World". For Plato, knowing the forms was a kind of mental seeing or a vision of truth. It leads to discovering the "Form of Good" and therefore Plato believed that philosophy made you a better person. This theory is important for understanding and objects true nature. For example, a cat is not a dog and not a mouse, but yet it has four legs and a tail like the other two animals have, so how is it that we can distinguish a cat from a dog of a mouse? Plato believed that each animal has a perfect form, the cat has perfect cat-ness that makes us recognise a cat when we see one. This perfect cat-ness is only found in the "World of forms"...

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