Doesn't write down anything, pulls apart peoples ideas and Plato's biggest influence. He was forced to drink helock and died. Plato carried on his ideas.

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Lived in athens, Greece between 428BC - 348 BC. Born from wealth and was top student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. Set up the first university in western europe and opposed demcracy.Was the opposite of Socrates and wrote down everthing.

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Analogy of the Cave

Even though Plato's Allegory of the Cave can seem pretty darn bleak, remember that it's meant to be a wake-up call for everyone to stop settling for an imperfect, unexplored life. Since Plato believed that human beings could eventually free themselves and head upwards to the real world by leading a life of philosophical consideration, the Allegory's bleakness is really meant to be motivational, to make people understand how limiting and self-defeating an "unexamined life" can be.

It's also meant to remind people that they should be skeptical of everything. Yep, even of what's right in front of your eyes. The key to being a philosophical person is to take everything you encounter in life as an opportunity for scrutiny and self-improvement.

Plato was definitely going for shock value with this haunting image—and shock is what he got. The Allegory of Cave has become one of the most unforgettable, talked-about moments in the history of philosophy. In one way or another, almost every major philosophical viewpoint since Plato has responded to, attacked, or reimagined this foundational image of human existence.

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Strenghts and Weaknesses


  • Encourages us to question
  • Explains recognition
  • Problem of evil eplained with imperfection


  • Critical of empiricism
  • How do the forms relate to the world
  • little guidance
  • lack of proof
  • infinate regress
  • absolute goodness
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The Forms

Plato believed that the same point could be made with regard to many other abstract concepts: even though we perceive only their imperfect instances, we have genuine knowledge of truth, goodness, and beauty no less than of equality. Things of this sort are the Platonic Forms, abstract entities that exist independently of the sensible world. Ordinary objects are imperfect and changeable, but they faintly copy the perfect and immutable Forms. Thus, all of the information we acquire about sensible objects (like knowing what the high and low temperatures were yesterday) is temporary, insignificant, and unreliable, while genuine knowledge of the Forms themselves (like knowing that 93 - 67 = 26) perfectly certain forever.

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Platos finest student, golden error, from money, tutor to alexander the great, rejected most of platos ideas and duality. Believed in perception as true knowledge.

" I love my teache plato dearly, but I love the truth more"

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The material cause is what something is made out of. The human body of made up of cells. Wooden boxes are made up of wood. Computers are made out of transistors and other electronic components. The material cause also explains the general sort of properties of something. Wooden boxes burn because they are made out of wood. The human body needs oxygen because its cells need oxygen. Finally, the material cause can be divided into two: prime matter and proximate matter. Proximate matter is matter that has some properties, such as wood, cells and electronic components. Prime matter has no properties at all. Aristotle believed that prime matter did not exist, but was theoretically necessary.

The formal cause is what makes a thing one thing rather than many things. The human body is human, wooden boxes are boxes, and computers are computers. The difference between a mere collection of cells and a human body is that a human body has properties and functions that come from a particular arrangement of the right kind of cells doing the right kind of things. A mere collection of cells is not the formal cause. A human body is the formal cause. The formal cause can also be divided into two: formal cause and exemplary cause. An exemplary cause is the plan in someone’s mind that gave rise to a computer. Things have either a formal cause or an exemplary cause – not both.

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Caustion continued...

The efficient cause is what did that. If a ball broke a window, then the ball is the efficient cause of the window breaking. Every change is caused by an efficient cause. If your eye sees, then it sees because light from the object strikes your eyes and causes you to see what is there. Efficient causes answer the “what did that” question, but do not answer how it was done.

The final cause is why efficient causes do what they do and why formal causes do what they do. Why do balls break windows? The final cause says that because balls are hard and windows are brittle, they break. Why do rocks fall? Aristotle said that rocks fall because they are heavy. Air is light, therefore air rises. These are all pointing out the final cause of efficient causes. To ask for the final cause of formal causes is to ask why these things exist at all. Why do human beings exist? Aristotle says that they exist to make more human beings, because they are alive. They also exist to be happy because they are rational. Why do computers exist? They exist because people made them. They wanted to use them as tools in math, gaming and business. Why do rocks exist? They exist because the wind, sea and rain break rock formations to produce rocks. These things are also final causes.

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Prime Mover

In his book Metaphysics (literally after physics), Aristotle calls this source of all movement the Prime Mover. The Prime Mover to Aristotle is the first of all substances, the necessary first sources of movement which is itself unmoved. It is a being with everlasting life, and in Metaphysics Aristotle also calls this being ‘God’.

The Prime Mover causes the movement of other things, not as an efficient cause, but as a final cause. In other words, it does not start off the movement by giving it some kind of push, but it is the purpose, or end, or the teleology, of the movement. This is important for Aristotle, because he thought that an effective cause, giving a push, would be affected itself by the act of pushing. Aristotle believed the prime mover causes things to move by attraction in much the same way that a saucer of milk attracts a cat. The milk attracts the cat but cannot be said to be changed in the process (gerry hughes).

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Strenghts and Weaknesses

Aristotle believed that God exists necessarily, which means that God does not depend on anything else for existence. He never changes or has any potential to change, never begins and never ends, and so is eternal. Eternal things, Aristotle claimed, must be good; there can be no defect in something that exists necessarily, because badness is connected with some kind of lack, a not-being of something which ought to be there, an absence of the ‘actuality’ that Aristotle thought God most perfectly has.

Aristotle argued that the Prime Mover had to be immaterial. It could not be made of any kind of stuff, because matter is capable of being acted upon, it has potential to change. Since it is immaterial, it cannot perform any kind of physical, bodily action. Therefore, Aristotle thought, the activity of the Prime Mover, God, must be purely spiritual and intellectual. The activity of God is thought.

for; grounded in empiricism, things do change, logicall progressive, no infinite regress

against; is the universe a brute fact, multiverse, is causation a delusion, PM cannot interact, goes against biblical god

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Aristotle and the concept of goodness

Something which fulfils its potential

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The concept of God as Creator

  • In Genesis God is portrayed as the supreme being having no equal.
  • God is separate from his creation - He is transcendent.
  • It is not clear as to whether God creates out of nothing – creatio ex nihilo.
  • God appears to bring order (Gk cosmos) out of disorder (Gk Chaos).
  • Both Judaism and Christianity assume that God did create out of nothing.
  • Some scientists have problems with creation ex nihilo as they argue that matter cannot simply come into existence.
  • Augustine suggested that time itself is an aspect of the created world – beginning and creating out of nothing do not refer to some particular moment in time.
  • For Augustine the universe could be eternal, while at the same time created, sustained and dependent upon God.
  • Gen is very AMBIGUOUS
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Bible referrences

  • The Book of Genesis contains two accounts of creation – the Priestly tradition (Gen 1:1-2:4a) and an older version from the Yahwistic tradition (Gen 2:4b ff).
  • Arguably the best way of understanding these two stories is as myth.
  • A myth is a pre-scientific ways of understanding creation.
  • There are similarities between Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Babylonian creation myths.
  • Myths attempt to answer the same Ultimate Questions as philosophy but in a different way.
  • The creation stories are anthropocentric – i.e. they don’t try and answer why creation exists, they try and answer the question why do humans exist.
  • The purpose of the creation stories is to introduce the ongoing relationship between God and humanity starting with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham…the Patriarchs…the Israelites, Moses…etc.
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Creatio Ex Nihlio

  "Ex nihilo" is Latin for "from nothing." The term "creation ex nihilo" refers to God creating everything from nothing. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Prior to that moment there was nothing. God didn’t make the universe from preexisting building blocks. He started from scratch.

The Bible never expressly states that God made everything from nothing, but it is implied. In Hebrews 11:3 we read, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Scholars take this to mean that the universe came into existence by divine command and was not assembled from preexisting matter or energy.

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God's Omnis and more

  • Plato argued for the Form of Good at the top of his hierarchy
  • For Plato God was a sterile ideal
  • Within the Judeo-Christian tradition God is more than a concept – He is personal
  • According to this tradition, God is good in whom there is no evil
  • Humanity has a responsibility to live up to this goodness
  • Central to the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) is the concept of God making a covenant:
  • I will be your God and you will be my people
    • For Christians God renews the covenant in the person of Jesus
    • Omnipotent, omniscience, omni - belevolent, omnipresent
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God's Omnis and more 2

Omnipotence means all-powerful. Monotheistic theologians regard God as having supreme power. This means God can do what he wants. It means he is not subject to physical limitations like man is. Being omnipotent, God has power over wind, water, gravity, physics, etc. God's power is infinite, or limitless.

Omniscience means all-knowing. God is all all-knowing in the sense that he is aware of the past, present, and future. Nothing takes him by surprise. His knowledge is total. He knows all that there is to know and all that can be known.

"Omnipresence means all-present. This term means that God is capable of being everywhere at the same time. It means his divine presence encompasses the whole of the universe. There is no location where he does not inhabit. This should not be confused with pantheism, which suggests that God is synonymous with the universe itself; instead, omnipresence indicates that God is distinct from the universe, but inhabits the entirety of it. He is everywhere at once.

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God's Omnis and more 3

Craftesman, law givver and judge

  • God is angered whenever he sees injustice
  • The prophets of the OT often had to remind the people whenever they neglected the poor, widows or orphans
  • The Judeo-Christian God is not Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover – he is angered whenever people fail to recognise his goodness
  • Ten Commandments = Decalogue (i.e. the Ten Words)
  • Given on Mount Sinai in a Theophany
  • Found in Exodus 20 and Deut 5
  • The Law is a sign of God’s covenant – an agreement
  • The Ten Commandments gives directions for both religious and social responsibilities
  • God’s people don’t have to guess what God’s will is – it is written down for them
  • God is a benevolent dictator – treating his people as children
  • God is also described as ‘a jealous God’
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Problems with a good God

The argument from evil (in all its forms) begins with an assumption about God’s nature: if God exists, it assumes, then he is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and perfectly good. Omniscience, omnipotence, and perfect goodness are, according to the argument from evil, a part of the concept of God.

It is only if God is conceived of in this way that the existence of evil poses a threat to belief in God. For if God were not all-knowing then evil might exist due to God’s ignorance either or it or of how to prevent it, if God were not all-powerful then evil might exist due to God’s inability to prevent it, and if God were not perfectly good then evil might exist due to God’s willingness to permit it. A simple way to resist the argument from evil, then, is to deny that God possesses all of these attributes.

This response to the argument from evil is simple, but it is also, to most theists, deeply unattractive. That God is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good is a pretty fundamental part of theism. For many, a theism saved at the expense of abandoning one of these divine attributes isn‘t worth saving.

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The Existence of God

The existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. The Bible says that we must accept by faith the fact that God exists: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). If God so desired, He could simply appear and prove to the whole world that He exists. But if He did that, there would be no need for faith. “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).

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Ontological Arguement

The ontological argument is an argument for God’s existence based entirely on reason. According to this argument, there is no need to go out looking for physical evidence of God’s existence; we can work out that he exists just by thinking about it. Philosophers call such arguments a priori arguments.

There clearly are certain claims that we can tell are false without even having to look into them to find out. The claim to have made a four-sided triangle, and the claim to be over six feet tall but less than five, for example, are both claims that are obviously false. We know that triangles have three sides. We know that being over six feet tall means being over five feet tall too. No one that understands what the words in these claims mean would think that they might be true. There’s no need to spend time looking for four-sided triangles or tall short people in order to know that there aren’t any.The ontological argument claims that the idea that God doesn’t exist is just as absurd as the idea that a four-sided triangle does. According to the ontological argument, we can tell that the claim that God doesn’t exist is false without having to look into it in any detail. Just as knowing what “triangle” means makes it obvious that a four-sided triangle is impossible, the argument suggests, knowing what “God” means makes it obvious that God’s non-existence is impossible. The claim that God does not exist is self-contradictory.

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Challange by Gaunilo

Gaunilo claims that Anselm’s dependence in his argument on a definition of God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ is flawed, as we simply cannot hold such a definition. Furthermore, to have this notion of God’s nature in one’s mind, as Anselm claims, would also be impossible for our reason.

Gaunilo’s second and more famous challenge to Anselm is that we cannot go from the definition of something to it’s existence. He uses a reductio ad absurdum argument, which aims to show the absurdity of holding the viewpoint of Anselm, by using the example of an island. He says: We can conceive of a perfect island. A perfect island must be more perfect in reality than in the mind. Therefore a perfect island exists. The perfect island stands for Anselm’s perfect being. Gaunilo aims to show with this example that Anselm’s argument is fallacious, as you can use his argument to prove the existence of things such as perfect islands.

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Anselms second arguement

  • Either God exists or He does not exist
  • If God exists, God’s existence must be necessary
  • If God does not exist, then his existence is logically impossible
  • God is not a logically impossible thing
  • Therefore, God’s existence is necessary
  • Therefore, God exists

Either God exists or He does not exist
Anselm is on solid ground here with a black and white statement

If God exists, God’s existence must be necessary
It would be inconceivable to thing of God in terms of Him being contingent – i.e. dependent upon something else. If we are going to think of God in terms of Him being omnipotent…etc. then by definition God must be necessary

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Strengths and weaknesses

One weakness I can think of is illustrated by Gaunilo (contemporary of Anselm) who argued that just because one can conceive of a perfect island, that island does not necessarily have to exist, just as a perfect deity can be imagined but that in itself does not ensure the existence of a God. The counter-argument to Gaunilo’s island scenario is that an imagined island does not have an ‘intrinsic maximum’ - in that there is always scope for an island to be even more perfect i.e. a few more palm trees, a slightly clearer sea, more wildlife etc. etc.
Another potential criticism for the ontological argument is that it suggests that existence is a quality and one that is necessary for perfection, when in reality existence could better be defined as a state of being.
When it comes to the ontological argument I imagine you may find it easier to think of weaknesses than strengths. I would argue that it fails as a proof of the existence of God i.e. this argument isn’t going to convince an atheist. It does however contain ideas that will enhance and support the understanding of a person who already has faith and when viewed from that angle the ontological argument has merit as a way to use logic and not experience to investigate the existence of God.

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Descartes Ontological arguement

The main statement of the argument appears in the Fifth Meditation. This comes on the heels of an earlier causal argument for God's existence in the Third Meditation, raising questions about the order and relation between these two distinct proofs. Descartes repeats the ontological argument in a few other central texts including the Principles of Philosophy. He also defends it in the First, Second, and Fifth Replies against scathing objections by some of the leading intellectuals of his day.

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Challenge from kant

Descartes had argued that God had existence in the same way as a triangle has three sides. Kant would agree, if you had a triangle then you did indeed have an object with three sides. But if you do not have the triangle, you have neither its three angles or its three sides. If you accept that there is a God, it is logical to accept also that His existence is necessary. But you don’t have to accept that there is a God.

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Humes objection

Hume was famous for recognising when a line of argument disobeys the rules of logic and instead of moving from one step to the next makes a great leap. To move from 'everything we observe has a cause' to 'the universe has a cause' is too big a leap in logic. This is the same as saying that because all humans have a mother, the entire human race has a mother.

Hume maintains that the Cosmological argument begins with familiar concepts of the universe and concludes with not-so-familiar concepts beyond human experience. For Hume, God's existence cannot be proven analytically (by definition), since the definition of God's nature is not knowable. Hume concludes that it is not possible to prove the existence of a being who is unknowable and existentially different from all other beings

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