a) Explain Plato’s theory of forms. (25)
The theory of forms is presented in Plato’s Republic where Socrates explains that the only way to establish a perfect state is under the governance of a philosopher king, as only he has true knowledge of justice. The Forms are expounded upon in Plato's dialogues and general speech, in that every object or quality in reality has a form: dogs, human beings, mountains, colours, courage, love, and goodness. For example, you can recognise a cat because you know what a cat is, i.e., you have an idea of what a cat is. For Plate this distinction is crucial. First, the knowledge of what a cat is precedes you actually seeing a cat. Second, Plato suggests that the world we live in is a world of appearances but the real world is a world of ideas that he calls Forms. The Essential Form of goodness is the source of all moral goodness and allows us to see the true Forms.
Plato’s perfect state consists of: guardians, auxiliaries and producers. The auxiliaries are the warriors, responsible for defending the city from invaders, and for keeping the peace at home. They must enforce the convictions of the guardians, and ensure that the producers obey. It is only guardians, with gold in their souls, who use their reason to the full and that they govern. They are chosen from among the ranks of the auxiliaries, and are also known as philosopher-kings. For Plato, the guardians have episteme – justified true belief and so have a person with supreme episteme has the right to rule.
The world we live in is a world of appearances, but it is not the most important or real world. In the material world things that exist like trees and plants will all die. What makes a tree, however, or a cat a cat, is the way in which it corresponds to the Form of tree or cat. By Form Plato meant the idea of what a thing is. There are many types of cat but they all conform to or match to…