- 427-347 BCE
- Taught by Socrates
- Most of his books have Socrates as main character
- However, they also represent his own ideas
- Established a school of philosophy, the Academy
Plato was a dualist.
He believed that every human being was made up of a rational soul and a body and that when a person died it was the soul that survived.
The task of life was to care for the soul and not give in to the desires of the body.
Natural world is temporal (time-limited) and imperfect (subject to change). Supernatural world, the world of the Forms, is eternal (outside of time) and perfect (does not change).
The prisoners represent ordinary people – they think their world is real but it isn’t.
The prisoner who escapes represents the philosopher – the person who asks questions about the world and wants to know the truth.
Discovering that the fire causes the shadows is their first step towards knowing the truth.
They discover the truth when they go outside and see the sun, which enables us to see the real world.
Each of us is a prisoner, perceiving “reality” though our own imperfect eyes.
Most of us accept this distorted illusion of reality without question.
With great effort, some can break free of ignorance and illusion.
Because the path is very difficult and dangerous, it is not for everyone:
Plato: not everyone wants to, or has it in them, to be free.
One’s basic essential (genetic) character is critical to being able to break free.
It is difficult to get others to examine their secure conformity.
Forms = A priori like math we're born with a recollection of Forms.
The form of the Good is the highest Form
- The value of things are measured against the form of the good
- Anything is a pale imitation of the Form of the Good
Material objects are subject to change and decay they're contingent
The Forms exist in a state of unchanging perfection
Plato believed that behind every concept or object in the visible world there is an unseen reality, which he calls its FORM.
These Forms exist in their own right in the world of the Forms.
These Forms are the source of all knowledge and what the philosopher seeks when searching for the truth.
Plato said that the reason we can recognise and classify things in the visible world is because we have a prior understanding of them from the world of forms
It’s as if we have some kind of amnesia of the forms
The Finite world (our world)
- Here material objects exist (e.g. chairs)
- but they are subject to change
- and decay (legs drop off!).
- These things conform to their
- corresponding idea in the
- world of the Form
The World of The Form
Here the patterns, Or the objects and Concepts for The material World exist in A state of Unchanging perfection