Greek Philosophy

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  • Created by: Claire
  • Created on: 28-04-13 12:12

Plato

  • Dualist - belief in two world (World of Appearances & World of Forms)
  • Analogy of the Cave - a priori (based on reason) & deductive (argument moves from a premise through logical steps to a conclusion)

Analogy of the Cave:

Prisoners face a cave wall for their whole life only knowing the shadows as reality. One prisoner escapes out of the cave into the outside world; at first he is blinded and stunned by the sun, however his eyes soon adjust to the outside world and the new knowledge he has discovered of outside the cave. He returns to the cave to tell the other prisoners of the outside world, but they do not believe him and define him as mad. 

Meaning behind analogy:

  • Escapee represents philosophers and their enlightened new knowledge about the World of Forms which we can only access through our minds
  • Philosophers should rule society
  • The shadows represent illusions created by society
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Plato

Cave analogy

Stengths:

  • Plato portrays his message
  • He has subtle references to his views on society (philosophers should rule)
  • It can be portrayed visually so all can understand
  • Gives people a choice to develop their own opinions
  • Message skill applies today

Weaknesses:

  • Some logical problems; why do the prisoners feel the need to break free?
  • Plato assumes people will strove for knowledge, when in reality this may not be the case
  • He is an elitist, saying only philosophers are fit to rule
  • Some small details are not explained eg how did the chains get there?
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Plato

Form of the Good

  • Developed from the Analogy of the Cave (sun being the Form of the Good)
  • Plato wasn't satisfied with this world (of appearances) so he created this theory
  • He disagreed with the way society was ruled

Form of the Good sets a hierarchy in the World of Forms, itself being the highest good. Plato stated he doesn't exactly know what it is however we should all strive to obtain it (Analogy). Perfection amongst the forms is shared. We need intelligence to access this.

Forms (World of Forms): eternal, intelligable, unchanging, non-corporeal, non-physical, perfect, pure, knowledgable, wholly real. The form of an object is accessed through our mind, therefore in our own view it must be perfect as everyone has different opinions. 

Particulars (World of Appearances: more than one, sensible (known through our senses), changing, coming and going, material, imperfect, finite, corruptible. Everything we know to be real is through our senses, eg we know a chair by its characteristics etc, however something like beauty is harder to identify as everyone has different opinions. Plato said things we see/hear are a matter of opinions.

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Plato

Forms/World of Forms

Strengths:

  • Alternate to ever-changing world
  • Makes us strive for good as rational beings
  • Unchanging
  • Gives hope
  • Views based within reason/suited to different opinions

Weaknesses:

  • The World of Forms isn't material; there is no proof it exists
  • What is perfect? Everyone has different perceptions
  • In the World of Forms there is no change - we cannot relate - how do we understand something that is not known through senses?
  • We know everything around us through our senses; cannot deny whole existence of world
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Aristotle

  • Materialist (belief in things within the world)
  • Empiricist
  • A posteriori (based on experience)

Causality:

Theory of why things exist, eg wooden table

1. Material Cause - What is it made of? Made of wood

2. Efficient Cause - How is it made? Made with tools

3. Formal Cause - What are the characteristics? 4 legs, wooden

4. Final Cause - What is it's ultimate purpose? To eat at, to write on etc

Aristotle said the Final Cause is the most important as it shows it's function and purpose in this world. Potentiality into actuality: progression of idea into becoming reality. Overall reason for existence is if it fulfils its purpose.

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Aristotle

Why Causality?:

Aristotle invented the idea of causality to explain why things exist, why things are the way they are, to find out how change occurs and why, question higher purpose (final cause), make sense of the world we live in and how things develop from potential to actual.

Strengths:

  • Bases ideas on empirical world so his idea can be identified/related to
  • Scientifically plausible
  • Relatable

Weaknesses:

  • Little evidence for final cause
  • Cannot be applied to theory of the Prime Mover
  • Some would argue not everything has a purpose
  • Russell: "the universe is a brute fact" - no need for final cause/explanation  
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Aristotle

Prime Mover

  • Something that creates motion, change and movement which leads to a chain of movements, but remains unmoved
  • Object of love and desire
  • P.M. to Aristotle is the first of all substances; there must be a neccesary 1st source of all movement which itself is unmoved
  • Unmoved mover, uncaused causer: a being with an everlasting life (in Metaphysics, Aristotle calls this God)

Why Prime Mover?

"There must be a mover which moves them without being moved, eternal and a substance and actual"

Change for Aristotle is eternal, and he wanted to understand why. It moves things and causes motion but does not move itself otherwise he is changing, therefore not the first cause or unmoved mover. The P.M. is the object of love and desire for the world and this inspires movement.

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Aristotle

Prime Mover

Strengths:

  • Gives explanation to life
  • Rational reason for all beings
  • Outlines purpose to our existence

Weaknesses:

  • Contradicting himself; he disagreed with Plato (his tutor) and the World of Forms because he is a materialist, however the Prime Mover is immaterial
  • No proof of Prime Mover
  • Causality does not apply to Prime Mover
  • Why is it neccessary to have a Prime Mover? Why not an everlasting cause and effect chain of motion (infinite regress)?
  • Russell: "the universe is a brute fact" - no need for further explanation
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Aristotle

Prime Mover

Strengths:

  • Gives explanation to life
  • Rational reason for all beings
  • Outlines purpose to our existence

Weaknesses:

  • Contradicting himself; he disagreed with Plato (his tutor) and the World of Forms because he is a materialist, however the Prime Mover is immaterial
  • No proof of Prime Mover
  • Causality does not apply to Prime Mover
  • Why is it neccessary to have a Prime Mover? Why not an everlasting cause and effect chain of motion (infinite regress)?
  • Russell: "the universe is a brute fact" - no need for further explanation
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