Explain Plato's Concept Of The Forms "Plato's Concept Of Forms Is Of Little Use In Understanding The Physical World." Discuss. [17]

1712 words - 7 pages

a) Explain Plato's concept of "Forms" [33]Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher living around 400 BCE, came to an belief that as well as the visible world, there was in fact another, separate 'world' which contained the 'Forms'. Forms are what Plato understood to be the reality that lies behind each concept and object in the visible world. Plato was exploring how the human senses know how to categorise objects, animals and concepts, however warped they may be from their mundane Form. He believed there to be a difference between that which we recognise with our senses and that which we understand with our minds, if able to access this 'world of Forms'. Plato thought that what we as humans see ...view middle of the document...

The Forms are perfect examples of the property that they represent - they are archetypes - they are the models upon which all material objects are founded. Any other types of this object are imperfect and impure in comparison to its Form. As well as being perfect the Forms are 'ultimately real' - they are not material. All material objects are copies of a collection of Forms. Forms are, as Plato believed, to be the causes of all things, they explain why anything on earth is so and they are the origin of all things that exist now, in the past and in the future.In addition, Plato believed that the Forms were systematically interconnected, they had a certain hierarchy, in which the Form of the Good (God) is at the top, being central to the existence of the whole universe.Plato uses the Allegory of the Cave in his writings 'Republic' to explain these Forms. In the rear of the cave are a number of prisoners who have been chained up for their whole lives (representing ordinary people). These captives are all facing a wall, upon which shadows of everyday objects and people are being projected, the source of light being a fire in the front of the cave. To these prisoners, the shadows seem real because they do not know what is happening behind them, and never have experienced anything different. Plato goes on to explain that if one of the prisoners were set free, they would feel pain and confusion due to lack of understanding of the 'real' world. This person would be blinded by the bright light of the sun and feel dazzled. At first, he would search for the shadows he is used to, but as time goes by will slowly understand and get used to the clarity of reality. If the liberated prisoner was to return to the cave and tell the others, nobody would believe him, branding him insane.In this allegory, the captive did not know anything about the clear 'real' world, as is the same with ordinary people. We do not have the knowledge of these pure Forms, nor can this knowledge be gained through any sensual or bodily experience.Therefore Plato argued that the knowledge must be a type of recollection; that our souls must have been in the world of Forms prior to our births. In this instance, the existence of our bodies is not essential to the existence of our souls, leading to the conclusion that we are, in fact, immortal and that when one dies his or her soul is reunited with the Forms in 'Platonic heaven'. Plato states that souls originate in this 'Platonic heaven' and this is where the recollection of it in life comes from.Plato believed that the soul had access to the Forms before it was connected with a physical body - he stated that at birth the soul forgets the world it has come from but with true knowledge and thought it can eventually break free and enlighten the body. Plato described the soul, like the Forms, as immortal and unchanging; perhaps suggesting that the soul itself was a Form.b) "Plato's concept of Forms is of little use in understanding the...

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