Plato's Theory of The Forms

Summary of the Forms/Essay Plan

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  • Created by: Jessie
  • Created on: 29-09-11 18:48


Introduction: Cave Analogy

  • The Republic
  • Cave = our/empirical world, Outside = real world, realm of the Forms
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What are the Forms?

  • Blueprints to everything on Earth
  • Essence of everything
  • Archetype for things that exist

Where are they?

  • The "real world", instead of our world of appearances

What are they like?

  • Unchanging and perfect
  • Non-physical and transcendent
  • Eternal, timeless and immortal

How do we know about them?

  • Known through intellect, generally philosophers are the ones in the know
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How do they differ to the Particulars?

  • Many Particulars
  • Particulars = known through senses, Forms = known through intellect
  • Always changing into something else
  • Material objects
  • Imperfect
  • Always coming in and out of existence
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Hierarchy of the Forms

  • Bottom = Physical inanimate objects
  • Physical living objects
  • Concepts and ideals
  • Universal qualities (eg. justice, truth and beauty)
  • Top = The Form of the Good
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Form of the Good

  • Makes things knowable
  • Source of the other Forms
  • Represented by the sun in the Cave allegory
  • Enables us to understand and assess things
  • Analogy of sight = requires both light and the eye to see, light symbolises light, as without it one cannot see clearly.
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Mention criticisms:

  • Unclear link between the Forms and the world of Appearances
  • No proof
  • Form of the Forms?


  • One of Plato's most important theories
  • Form of the Good similar to the idea of a monotheistic God/higher deity.
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