Plato & His Platonic Forms

Plato and the Platonic Forms

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Plato & His Platonic Forms


  • Blueprint from which all representations of that Form are taken.
  • They cannot be perceived directly so our reality is a pale copy of the world of the true forms.

Plato believed:

  • there was an eternal world beyond the material world- this was the realm of the Forms.
  • we cannot find the truth in this realm but we must seek it.
  • this world only presents us with appearance, which cannot lead to true knowledge
  • sense experience deceives us as it is through our bodies which are impermanent.

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Knowledge is a recollection- the soul is remembering the Forms before birth.

They are:

  • Transcendent
  • Pre-Existent (a priori)
  • Pure
  • Universal (there is a form for everything)
  • Immortal (what is real has to be living forever)
  • Unchanging
  • an ARCHETYPE for things that physically exist

The DEMIURGE (Plato's God) made an imperfect copy of the immortal Forms out of pre-existent matter GOOD: Good is knowledge and truth what the sun is to light and sight. We are not able to experience perfect goodness in this world but we recognise actions as good by some innate knowledge which we all have. This form gives all the other forms their truth and also provides the mind with the power of knowing.

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It is the cause of all truth and knowledge and is higher than truth and knowledge. Since Good is top of the hierarchy of Forms, for Plato, real knowledge is the knowledge of Goodness.

in the FINITE world:

material objects are subject to change and decay. This is a shadow of the "real" world of the Form. Whereas in the

INFINITE world, it is in a state of unchanging perfection and it is the philosopher's job to break free from the shackles of the finite world and to find the world of the Form.

His ideas on the mind and body:

Soul=immortal, essential, immaterial part of a human, temporarily united with the body before returning to the world of the Form. Correlates with ideas that Forms are unchanging too.

Body=physical, existing in time and space. It has EXTENSION.

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Strengths and Criticisms of the Forms


  • No-one has ever seen a perfect circle yet we all recognise what one looks like. He utilises the form's archetype as evidence that the Forms exist.
  • Even though there are many colours and tones, we can recognise one particular colour such as blue. It seems we have an in-built system in which we can recall these colours. Must be a form of "A Priori" knowledge.
  • A recollection from pre- birth? We seem to have a recollection of things. According to Plato this is because our souls have previously recognised the illusions of many forms and correspond to those in what we see in our world.


  • In his dialogue Parmenides one of the arguments he puts forward is that if each form is a 'thought' inside a soul, then there must be a Form of a thought which must not be possible?
  • Plato believed: "knowledge is recollection". Theory of the Forms are real because he can understand it. No proof that it actually exists. Proof of existence of soul? Surely cannot prove something because you understand it?
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  • "perfect Forms" - even for physical entities such as a comb or even a virus?
  • Dilemma of participation where we are unaware of the measurement of how imperfect the form is which we see before us.
  • THIRD MAN ARGUMENT- Aristotle' idea that if his theories were the case, we would have an infinite number of consulations to make only one judgement.
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this is sooo good. only have 2days til my exam n this has really helped!!

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