Plato's world of the forms

Revision cards focusing on the world of the forms

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  • Created by: Lucy64
  • Created on: 22-03-13 19:58

The Realm of particulars/ The finite World

  • The realm of the particulars is typically known as the cave in Plato's cave analogy
  • Objects e.g. material objects in this realm participate in the forms but they change and decay as they are only shadows of the true, perfect forms of the same item in the realm of the forms
  • It is the Philosophers job to break free from the senses of the finite world and find reality in the world of the forms
  • We recognise and classify things in this world because we have a prior understanding of them from the world of the forms.
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The world/realm of the forms

  • The forms in this world are perfect and unchanging
  • These are the different forms:
    - The form of 

1) Justice
2) Truth
3) Beauty
4) the Good (This is the ultimate form of all of the forms)
The form of the good is the highest knowledge a human can attain. If you have this knowledge then you are no longer bound by your senses.You are able to use your a priori knowledge to understand the world 

  • All knowable things participate in the form of the good and are illuminated by it. 
  • The world of the forms is the ultimate reality
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The Hierarchy of the forms

The form of the good
- the highest good 

              Truth                                         Beauty                                             Jusice

                   ↘                                             ↓                                             

 Concepts and ideal

↓   (Concepts and ideals are inferior to truth, beauty and justice)

Physical living objects

Inanimate objects

(Inferior to all of the above. It becomes paler, further from the form of the good)

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The form of Beauty

  • A thing is beautiful because it shares in the form of beauty
  • The meaning of the word 'beauty' corresponds to some external reality, this is whats known as the ideal form
  • Beauty is a form and not just a word used to describe a person or object
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The Philosopher king

  • Plato believed that since only philosophers were enlightened, they should rule the city state
  • In the analogy of the cave, Philosophers made the ascent to the sunlight and has access to the realm of the forms
  • Philosophers developed their a priori knowledge of the form of the Good
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Types of Knowledge

A priori: Knowledge that is gained from reasoning, we know it without previous experience

A posteriori: Knowledge that we gain through experience

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Strengths of the world of the forms

  • It explains why we recognise the same essential elements in something
  • We should question in order to learn and not accept things at face value.

  • Humans do have different levels of ability and perception.

  • It helps us understand why there are imperfections in the world around us.
  • It has stood the test of time and has influenced many other systems of thought.

  • It points to the possibility of a metaphysical realm.

  • It’s an image which identifies different levels of reality.

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Weaknesses of the world of the forms

  • Forms could be ideas preserved in people’s minds.
  • Is there a form of a form, and then a form of a form of a form – an infinite regression?
  • Plato is part of the world of appearances so he too is imperfect and subject to change and decay.

  • There is no proof of any other world beside the physical world.

  • Plato does not explain the link between the world of forms and the physical world.

  • Is there a form of everything such as a form of a bus ticket or a type of deodorant?
  • The forms are good reflecting the goodness of the form of the Good but what about forms of bad things eg cancer, war?

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