Plato's Theory of the Forms

  • Created by: Lilydavis
  • Created on: 29-04-19 22:36

Plato's Theory of the Forms


  • Plato's theory supports the belief of classical theism which is widely accepted, as Stokes said "The influence of [the Forms] on later Christian thought, in which man is made in the image of God, is only one of many ways in which Plato had a direct influence on Christian theology."
  • Plato gives reasons for imperfections of the world
  • His theory explains why we recognise the same essential elements in something
  • Plato's rational approach is a strength as empirical knowledge can be flawed
  • "Plato offers a rational argument for the existence of another reality, which can be read off this world, even though not fully; this involves free choice." - Stephen Evans
  • "The theory that there is another world than this... gives value and meaning to our present world." - Magee


  • Aristotle's 3rd man argument - all men participate in the form of 'human-ness', there then must be a form that this participates in - the form of the form of human-ness and so on. This is known as infinite regression
  • Are there forms of everything? Bus tickets? Bananas? What about things that are yet to be invented?
  • What if ideas of justice and beauty are not Forms but ideas in people's minds that are passed along through generations. Dawkins referred to this as 'memes' in his book 'The Selfish Gene'.
  • How does one realise the reality of the Forms?


Plato's theory of Forms encourages us to question in order to learn and not accept things at face value. This gives a purpose to subjects that require thinking, like philosophy. However there is a lack of evidence for Plato's theory which contradicts our senses and reason.


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