Explain The Criticisms Of Plato's Theory Of The Forms.

1605 words - 6 pages

Plato's theory of forms, also called his theory of ideas, states that there is another world, separate from the material world that we live in called the "eternal world of forms". This world, to Plato, is more real than the one we live in. His theory is shown in his Allegory of the Cave (from The Republic, Book VII), where the prisoners only live in what they think is a real world, but really it is a shadow of reality. According to Plato, to the prisoners in the allegory and to humanity in the material world "truth would be literally nothing but shadows" and he believes us to be as ignorant as the people in the cave. Plato followed the belief that in order for something to be real it has to be permanent, and as everything in the world we live in is constantly changing, he assumed there must be something else. In his eternal world of forms, there is an ideal form of every object there is in this world. Plato answers the question "what is beauty?" by discovering the essence of true beauty. The reason one recognises something has being beautiful is because we have an innate knowledge of something that is beauty, i.e. we know of the form of true beauty in the eternal world of forms, and everything we see compares to that. Something is only beautiful if it shares characteristics with the form of beauty in the other world. The most important form is the form of the good, portrayed by the sun in the allegory of the cave.Aristotle was Plato's main critic and was once a pupil of Plato. Aristotle and many other philosophers who came after Plato criticised Plato's view that these ideal forms had an independent existence. Many people believe that there must be something to which we compare all objects and something that makes something what it is and not something else. But that doesn't mean that it exists separate from our bodies. Plato does not prove, or even try and prove that these perfect forms are self-evident. It is Plato's disability to prove this that causes people to criticise his theory. As Aristotle was one of his pupils, he does not totally reject Plato's theory but argues that it may not be the only logical reason towards how something is classified.Another criticism made by Aristotle. Linked to the previous one is that Aristotle does not believe that there can be an ideal form of Disease, or Dirt, or anything bad. If these things are unwanted then how can there be a perfect form of these? A perfect form of disease would be one that does not harm anybody, and doesn't cause death or suffering. Some concepts fit Plato's system in better ways than others. For example, mathematical concepts are easier for us to understand than others. How are we to know what the ideal dog is like? Is it tall, short, fat, or skinny? The perfect form of a circle fits into his theory as we know what a perfect circle would be like. It is hard to believe that there is a perfect form of a piece of paper, or a plastic bag. But, as can be seen, this criticism is again not...

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