Philosophy of Religion - The Greeks

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  • Created on: 21-12-15 23:26

Plato and the cave

Imagine a group of prisoners chaind since childhood in a cave where the onlything they ever knew was pupprt cast shadows on a wall. The shadows are made by a lit fire and the sounds are made byshowmen holding up the puppets at the back of the cave. They are unable to move as their necks are chained so that they constantly face forwards. They believe the shadows to e real as that is the only thing they have ever known. One of the prisoners escapes one day and turns around to realise that the shadows arent the only thing there. He discovers the outside world and feels like it is his duty to tell the others of it. They do not believe him and say that if he does not be quiet then they will kill him.

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Plato's cave meaning

The cave - People who believe knowledge is what we see and hear in the world (empirical evidence)

The shadows - Perceptions of those who believe empirical evidence ensures knowledge.

The escape - Makes difficut ascentup the ramp into the real world, represents the philosopher who seeks knowledge outside of the senses.

Sun - Represents the philosophical truth and knowledge, it is the actual form of the good.

The return - The prisoners reactions shows how poeple are scared of knowing philosophical truths.

Prisoners - People who are happy in the world they live in, they dont see the full picture (blind)

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Understanding Plato's Cave

- Plato isshowing the people that their knowledge is flawed and that appearance is deceptive (shadows)

- Used the philosopher to show how philosophers work hard on their theories and people choose to brush them aside.

- He says that only those who escape the unknown world to seek the truth will be successful instead of staying in the comfort of everyone elses beliefs.

Possible Interpretations

- About the life and death of Socrates.

- Knowledge and education.

- About metaphysic (whats real) and that this world is not truly real.

- It is political and about the failure of democracy and the need for philosophers to rule.

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Plato and the Forms

Two philosophers that influenced Plato

Heraclitus - 'you cannot step into the same river twice' everything changes therefore I cant know everything as that is based on senses.

Pythagoras - 'some thingss in maths that are absolutely certain'

What are the forms?

- Ideas.

- More real than the objects you see and hear.

- Perfect.

- Invisible and intangible.

- Plato says you can  recognise ideas (cat, chair) as they have the same likeness.

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Understanding the Forms

- The forms represent the real world, they are what is outside the cave.

- By looking at everyday objects and their qualities it can lead us to belive in the forms as we can identify objects such as chairs but struggle to describe it, it is what it is and we can just recognise it.

- There are three types of form; object (chair), qualities (beauty) and mathematical truths (2+2=4)

- The characteristics forms have are that they are perfect, real, unchanging and eternal.

- Particulars aredifferet from forms as they are always coming in and outof existance (projections) and they are imperfect versions of the perfect things.

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Understanding the Forms

- The forms represent the real world, they are what is outside the cave.

- By looking at everyday objects and their qualities it can lead us to belive in the forms as we can identify objects such as chairs but struggle to describe it, it is what it is and we can just recognise it.

- There are three types of form; object (chair), qualities (beauty) and mathematical truths (2+2=4)

- The characteristics forms have are that they are perfect, real, unchanging and eternal.

- Particulars aredifferet from forms as they are always coming in and outof existance (projections) and they are imperfect versions of the perfect things.

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Understanding the Forms

If all chairs were destroyed, common sense would say that theydont exist, however, Plato says their formdoes exist.

FOR

Many different particulars have some common property which makes them all the same and the form is just this common property ofcommon essence.

- Without the form it is not possible to explain the sameness.

- One over many.

AGAINST

There are things which no longer exist or havent yet been invented.

- How far do we categorise?

- Negative forms (evil and disease)

- 3rd man argument.

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Understanding the Forms

If all chairs were destroyed, common sense would say that theydont exist, however, Plato says their formdoes exist.

FOR

Many different particulars have some common property which makes them all the same and the form is just this common property ofcommon essence.

- Without the form it is not possible to explain the sameness.

- One over many.

AGAINST

There are things which no longer exist or havent yet been invented.

- How far do we categorise?

- Negative forms (evil and disease)

- 3rd man argument.

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Strengths of Plato's Forms

- Explains why we recognise the same features in something (chair)

- Encourages us to question in order to learn as our souls have knowledge, however, we just need to be reminded.

- Helps us to understand why imperfection exists in the world as they are particulars.

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Weaknesses of Plato's Forms

- You cant prove Plato's 'real' world exists.

- It seems unlikely that there is an ideal form to everything (cancer, illness)

- If you can have a form of a form (goodness) what stops there being a form of that? It isan infinite regression.

- Plato's argument is of no help for making sense of the world we live in.

- Plato is not clear on hoow the world of the forms relates to our world, does the dog form relate to a certain kind of dog? Is there a distict form of greyhound? And within that could there be a distinct formofmale greyhound? How far doyou categorise?

- Plato believes the senses are inferior, yet humans have relied on them for survival for thousands of years.

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The Form of the Good

- Ultimate form.

- Forms are perfect, their perfection orgoodness is something that they share.

- The sun in the allegory of the cave gives light to the real world, in the sameway the form of the  good illuminates the other forms.

- It is the reason why the forms are good.

- It enables usto 'see' the forms.

- It is the ultimate end in itself: the aim of everything is goodness.

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Assessing Plato on the Cave

FOR

Plato is right that our senses can be mistaken (pencil in water)

- Maths does give greater certainty than the truths we find in other areas.

AGAINST

- Our senses are essential for survival.

- To claim that some people (philosophers) are better than everyone else is elitist.

- Plato is wrong to think that we can know what goodness is in the same way that we can know mathematical truths.

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Aristotle's Causes

- Material cause --> what is it made of?

- Efficient cause --> how is it made?

- Formal caue --> characteristics that make itwhat it is.

- Final cause --> what is its purpose?

It explains everything, it explains actuality (you and now) and potentially (what could be)

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The Prime Mover

Aristotle aims to explain movement and change in the world (causes) but why is there movement and change at all? There has to be afirst cause.

'Nothing can move frrom nothing'

- He does not believe there was nothing but always something.

- He believes the thing that caused everything has to be unmoved otherwise yud have to explain what caused that also.

  • It is unmoved (1st cause)
  • It is immutable (does not change)
  • It is eternal (coming into and out of existance)
  • It is perfect (100% authority and no potential)
  • It is non-physical (physical things change)
  • It is not aware of this world.
  • It thinks about itself and thought alone.
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For and Against the Prime Mover

FOR

- Idea of prime mover avoids the problem of evil.

- Chain of causes must stop somewhere.

- Prime mover isultimately good in a staticand logical way.

AGAINST

- If the prime mover is responsible for everything, where did matter come from?

- Is it possible that the universe is the product of random chance with no realcause or purpose?

- The idea of a 'God' not  being involved is unsatisfactoryto religious believers.

- Cannot becompletelylike God as God is said to act in the world and people experience him.

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Aristotle on Plato

- Although Aristotle appreciated the teachings from Plato, he rejected the forms as Aristotle focused on the physical world and empirical evidence.

- Rejects dualist views of the world and Plato's understanding that the soul ha knowledge.

- Preferes to collect small truths (the barn is red, the door is red, they both share the same entity) rather than big truths like plato (they both share the same form of redness)

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