Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of Religion

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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 09-01-12 17:11

Plato: Analogy of the Cave

Shows the importance of questioning everything in order to distinguish between the unreal physical world (the cave) and the real spiritual world lit by the sun. The prisoners accept everything at face value and never ask questions or try to understand - pseudo intellectualism. Sun represents the Form of the Good. The prioners, lacking the philosopher's enquiring mind, continue to live in a dark and dismal world. The journey out of the cave = enlightenment, the journey of philosophy, world of forms and reality. Shadows are sense experiences. Cave - everyday world around us. Plato points ot the need to distinguish between the two realms of appearance and reality - the simile of the upper world is a metaphor for the Forms and does not reprseent objects in the material sense. Cave represents a world where everyone is laid back because they rely on sensory experiences. Senses are like the flickering shadows on the wall - always changing. Society should be led by the philosopher.

Absolutist, fixed universal (true for all people in all places)

No concrete evidence, Aristotle could not believe the form of something has a separate existence over and above the particular

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Plato: Concept of the Forms

  • material world
  • eternal world of concepts/forms
  • world we live in constantly changes, the objects we percieve are not eternal things they are PROCESSES
  • sense experience = empirical, world out of space and time (not percieved through senses) everything is perfect or ideal (the realm of the forms)
  • material world - present appearances - leading to opinions rather than knowledge
  • we have innate knowledge of Ideals
  • knowledge is a recollection, our souls knew the forms before we were born - people must have immortal souls
  • Form of the Good is the most important, ultimate principle, highest knowledge a human is capable of
  • justice comes from the form of the good - we realise we have never seen with our senses in the empirical world the perfect form of the good, we instead see reflections of this form - love thy neighbour
  • ideals are formed in a hierachy
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Plato: Concept of the Forms (Strengths and weaknes


  • understand why there are imperfections in the world around us
  • explains why we all recognise the same essential elements in something
  • encourages us to question in order to learn and not accept things at face value


  • Plato's argument is no help for making sense of the world we live in
  • senses are inferior, yet humans have relied on them for survival for thousands of years
  • unlikely that everything in existence has an ideal form - cancer?
  • Plato not clear how the world of the forms relates to our world, does the dog form have to relate to a specific variety of dog?
  • what is stopping you have a form of a form of a form (infinite regression)
  • can't prove Plato's real world of the Forms actually exists
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Aristotle's Prime Mover

  • all movement - depends on there being a mover
  • change is eternal
  • cause of change and movement is the prime mover
  • first of all substances, necessary first source of movement which itself is unmoved
  • has not an efficient cause but a final cause
  • God (eternal, necessary existence)
  • attraction


  • hard to understand how the PM can be powerful, yet unable to know it
  • if PM is eternal thought, where did the matter that the world is made of come from? was it caused too?
  • does there have to be a reason, or final cuase for the existence of the universe, could it not be chance?
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Aristotle: The causes

  • Material: material out of which a thing is made
  • Formal: pattern, model, characteristics, structure
  • Final: 'telos', potential, function, goal or purpose of something
  • Efficient: means/agency by which a thing comes into existence, may not always be humans - tree falling over in bad weather
  • final cause is most important - everything leads up to the final cause
  • "Materials always have the potential for change" Taylor
  • final cause - if it fully achieves final purpose it is good
  • teleology of something is within the object, not something we humans choose, it is intrinsic

Strengths: more logical way of labelling objects and recognising what things are compared to Plato, compatible with science, Hume Locke Berkely support, interpret and come up with several different explanations for objects and their existence, simple way of categorising

Weaknesses: final causes hard to determine, does cancer have a purpose?, human appendix does not, views of purpose may be different - sexual relations

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