Plato's Theory Of Forms Essay

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Born in the 5th century BCE, Plato was a rationalist, idealist philosopher, believing that we are born with concepts within us, and that these concepts are the same for everyone (Solomon, Higgins, & Martin, 2012). Through his beliefs, Plato developed a theory which he believed answered the question of ‘What is reality?’, that he called the theory of Forms (Solomon, et al., 2012). According to Plato, the Forms are a perfect ideal of an object or a concept, which is unchanging and innate within us (Solomon, et al., 2012). It is because of the Forms, according to Plato, that we have the ability to know what something is even though we may not have seen that exact thing before (Solomon, et al., 2012).

According to Plato, an appearance is what you see. The appearance is what we see, it is subject to change whereas the reality is the unchangeable, underlying Idea behind what we see. The reality of an object is in its essence, its innate qualities that make the object that object. This is what Plato refers to as its Form. For example a pen. Its appearance is that of a pen. It is a long cylindrical shape, when you press down on paper ink comes out. Its reality comes from the fact that we, as humans hold the Idea of a pen. The grounding principle of what a pen is and what a pen does. According to Plato, everyone must have the same reality, as reality is in the essence of an object or a concept (Solomon, et al., 2012). If the object or concept did not have an essence it would not be what it is thought to be, therefore, reality is universal and unchanging because if it did change it would not hold the same essence, however the matter, or appearance has the ability to change (Solomon, et al., 2010). The distinction that Plato makes between a...

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... investigation into whether or not reality is in fact universal. Another limitation of Plato’s theory is when Plato says that things in the ‘world of Becoming’ “participate” in the Forms of the ‘world of Being’ (Solomon, et al., 2012). It could be suggested, that the word “participates” is just a word, not an explanation of the relationship between the Form and the particular thing (Solomon, et al., 2012). With regard to this limitation, Plato himself found doubts, which he expressed through his later dialogues (Solomon, et al., 2012).

It can be argued that Plato’s theory of Forms does not fully account for all areas of knowledge or appearance and reality without creating limitations. His theory suggests to provide for a universal reality, however suggestions of how this may not be can be found, providing that it does not completely account for universal reality.
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