Who were Plato's inspirations?
Heraclitus - taught him to deny that we know the sensible world Parmenides - reality is eternal and timeless Socrates - his teacher and was killed by the government
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Who was Plato?
Greek philospher, believed in amnesis (recalling knowledge) - rejected knowledge gained through senses (a posteriori)
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Define Dualist
Plato believed the soul and body = two seperate entities
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Define Absolutist
Objective (not influenced by emotions or any other factor) truth exists. Things are either intrinsically right or wrong
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What did Plato believe in?
Pre existing matter (a lot of Greeks would agree that something always existed). Matter has no beginning and is eternal
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focused on the more ideal version of something. Focused on what things should be like. Like a guide to strive for. They are timeless, unchanging and immaterial
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name given to the Form - the perfect version of something
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mimics/ imitations of Forms
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The realm of the Forms
Where the Forms must be e.g. The Form of the Cat - Forms = odea; blue prints for partciualrs
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Examples of Forms
Beauty, Truth and Good - these are then applied to different situations
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World of Particulars
imperfect copies of Forms - not a stable world as it is contigent/ realm of becoming and change
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Plato was a dualist
2 realms of existence
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Say in exam...
Clear disticntion between the Forms and particulars however inimate relationship is there in the sense that particulars partiipate in forms
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Example given
The Form of Beauty may be present in a beautiful person
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The Analogy of the Cave
A cave had 3 prisoners in it. The prisoners sat on chairs and were not allowed to look behind them; they had to stare at the grey wall in front of them. People used to work in the cave and they built fires.
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They would carry in objects such as small trees and animals. These would then cause a shadow on the wall and the workers used the shadows as a game.
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Prisoners used to guess what shadow would appear next and the person who got it right was deemed the cleverest. The prisoners had been there since birth and therefore knew other world other than the wall.
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One day one of the prisoners escaped and saw the outside world. He first thought that trees weren’t real and that the sun was too bright. However, after a little while he realized that the trees were real and that the shadows had just been mimics
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sun was a source of life. The escaped prisoner then began to notice materialistic things, which he had never seen before – intellectual journey where he discovers beauty and meaning. He then returned inside to tell the two remaining prisoners however
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they did not believe him and threatened to kill him.
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Questions surronding the cave?
Would the prisoner return to the cave? Plato assumes that someone who discovers the Form of Good would return to their old ways – TRUE? Plato could underestimate the pull from emotions Aristotle identified that people suffer from a weakness of will –
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Gloomy Cave vs. Physical Delights
Plato paints a gloomy reality in the analogy – not a fair representation of the cave Plato underestimates the physical world – far more beautiful than Plato makes out Plato believed all matter = evil = subject to change
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Buddhist Support
Buddhism agrees in principle with Plato’s assessment of reality They believe that life is ‘dukkha’ = suffering = this comes through the human desire to hold on to the physical realm Buddhism agrees with Plato that physical reality is a constant state
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state of change True reality lies beyond the physical realm\
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Physical vs. Spirtual differnece
Plato’s analogy tries to explain that there is a spiritual`/meta-physical realm beyond the physical Obvious problem – Plato fails to make the distinction between the visible world and the WoF = analogy contains physical objects Sun = physical object
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The Cave
This is a metaphor for life, where the cave is the real world and outside is the realm of the Forms. The body prevents the soul from seeking true knowledge. Represent the human body, imprisons the souls
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The Shadows
The shadows represent the government as they control all forms of media meaning that they have power of what we see – they are essentially the puppeteers. The senses cannot assess the reality. The illusions created by our senses.
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The escapee = Socrates. The puppeteers could represent the Athenian governments as they killed Socrates for questioning their beliefs.
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The Prisoners
The prisoners represent people in society as we are the ones that consume media and more times than not believe the media. This is what the prisoners have done as they have perceived the shadows as reality.
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The Journey out of the Cave
The philosophical discovery of true knowledge. It is painful and confusing because it involves rejecting the familiar. The philosopher msut free himeslef from the illusion created by hs senses using his mind to gsain true knowledge.
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The Sun
The most perfect of all realities which Plato calls the Form of the Good. Our ultimate goal is to gain knowledge of this because it will enable us to understand everything else. All other things depend on this for existence all living things = sun
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The Prisoners return
He cannot see the shadows properlu – former life beneath him. He is mocked by others who will say that his pursuit fo philosophy has weakened his abilities. They refuse to believe anything that could be more real than there own opinion = killed
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Good - Empirical knowledge flawed
Shows how empirical evidence = flawed (prisoners thinking the shadows are real)
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Gives a reason for imperfections in the world
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Not Good - Unclear link...
... between WoAppearances and WoF - anaolgy fails ot tell us how they are connected
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How do you realise the truth and reality of Forms to become enlightened
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Not everyone will accept it
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No empirical evidence
Also fails to address infinte regression and disregards senses
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Hierarchy of Forms
THE GOOD - Universal qualities - Concepts and Ideals - Physical living objects - Physical inaminate objects
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Upper Part
Represent the realm of the forms Consists of forms and mathematical objects Modes of perception: reason and understanding (in terms of mathematical thought)
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Lower Part
Represents the world of appearances Consists of physical objects and images of physical objects Modes of perception: belief and imagination E.g. artists are at the bottom of Plato’s social hierarchy as he believed that they created imperfect copies
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is eternity needed?
Plato assumes = for something to be pure – needs to be eternal (Whiteness) however being white and being eternal = two different things / something may be white for a few moments but is still perfectly white
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Why are they not studied
If Forms = so essential = why does no one study them = odd if they are key to clear thought
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No pratical value
The Forms have not practical value = in matter of health = there is no perfect health – knowledge of an abstract health does not help in diagnosis
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Empiricists would object to the various assumptions that we may know anything about the world a priori other than by sense experience No empirical evidence for the forms – Plato argues by assertions – easy to get caught in his imaginative writing
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Karl Popper
(Volume 1 The Open Society and Its Enemies) argues that Plato is determined to find certainty in a world of continual change = however he fails at this is says that it must exist somewhere else
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Who was Plato?


Greek philospher, believed in amnesis (recalling knowledge) - rejected knowledge gained through senses (a posteriori)

Card 3


Define Dualist


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Card 4


Define Absolutist


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Card 5


What did Plato believe in?


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