Theory of Forms

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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a) Explain Plato’s Theory of Forms

Plato’s Theory of Forms is similar to many other beliefs about the world. For instance, Heraclitus’ notion was that we see a world of perception in constant flux of which we have no true knowledge, while Zeno believed that we can see a static unchanging world and it can be grasped through reason. Plato’s theory 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 transient. He explains that the World of Forms is very different to the World of Shadows. 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, like the Allegory 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.

Plato believes there are two distinct realms of existence which exists simultaneously. This approach to the two different worlds is know as dualism. The world we live in is a less perfect version of the other world whereas the perfect world is unchanging and eternal, therefore we can gain true knowledge from the perfect world. Here in our world, the finite world, material objects like chairs exist but they are subject to change and decay. These things conform to their corresponding idea in the World of Forms. The finite world are shadows of the real world of the…...

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