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Plato Essay

1581 words - 6 pages

One of the questions that has faced and continues to face some of the philosophers of the world is "What is reality?" Plato addresses this question in his doctrine, the Theory of Forms. In an attempt to answer this question, he explains what the Forms are and how they affect the way the world is observed. These so-called Forms are the basis of the reality we perceive. The question one must ask him or her self is what are these forms, where do they come from, and how do they affect us as a society.
"A Platonic Form (Idea) is not a thought in someone's mind but something that exists per se as an immutable part of the structure of reality."(Luce, 99) This statement is the foundation of Plato's philosophy. What he is saying is that these forms are behind the way we see the world. In other words, they control the images and ideas that are presented to us. Two examples of such forms are ideal beauty and absolute goodness. When a person makes a comment like " That is a beautiful home." What is the difference between a beautiful home and a home that is not beautiful? This illustrates the point that Plato is attempting to make about the Forms functioning as a standard by which we compare the world to. In essence, these Forms serve as a measuring stick by which we make our judgements. In regards to the Form of absolute goodness, Plato describes this one as the all- powerful form. Here Plato suggests that the other Forms derive their meaning from the Form of absolute goodness. Some of the other Forms include Equality, circularity, Health and Justice. These forms cannot be seen nor can they be felt; however, they can be apprehended by the mind after suitable preparation and training (Luce, 100). These forms exist in everything we see, in all the decisions we make and it is these Forms that we perceive when we describe something as beautiful or right or even wrong. The Theory of Forms also has two significant underlying doctrines within its contents. The first one is the distinction between opinion and knowledge. One word that Plato uses to describe opinion is flawed. He explains that opinions are always changing due to anything from outside forces or simply just one's perception. For example, the people around can alter a person's opinion or even the type of room someone is in. External pressures are the cause of the variation in opinions and that is why they are not always correct. Even under the circumstances that the opinion is an accurate one, it can only be reinforced but never proven to be true. On the contrary, knowledge is attained through a long drawn out process of reasoning. Therefore, knowledge is a direct reflection of the Forms and furthermore must be true. In other words there is no such thing as "false knowledge" (Luce, 100). The second underlying doctrine in Plato's Theory of Forms is the idea that there are different degrees of reality. What he says is that the Forms are more real than any copy of...

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