You are on page 1of 2

Plato's Land of the Forms

Plato thought that there was this intangible world of reality somewhere. He called it The Land of the Forms it was a place where there was a perfect example of everything. There was the form of a chair or the form of a dog or the form of truth or the form of a circle. Plato strongly believed in A priori knowledge which is knowledge not gained though experience, it is innate. All knowledge gained through the senses is just a shadow of what we saw in the land of the forms but just cannot quite remember what the actual form was. The closest Plato gets to empirical proof of his idea is there are certain things which we know what they are but if we were asked to define them is such a way that it could not be anything else we would find it very difficult. This is because be just cannot quite remember what the form of the think actually looks like. For example we know what a cat is but to just describe it as a four legged mammal with a tail that goes meow is not true of all cats because you can get cats without tails, with missing limbs or cannot go meow. But these are no less a cat that the others, but we still seem to manage to define them all as cats. This is because they are all impressions of the real cat but there are certain aspects of this particular cat as he called it which makes it not the cat. Platos word use of particular here means the superficial details that overlay that form. The form means the essence of the object, in the case of a cat it is its catiness which makes it a cat it is the perfect essence of the thing. Plato thought that just because you cannot experience the land of the forms does not make it any less real. Plato also thought that some forms were better than others and he ranked them using a pyramid system. He thought there was a form for almost everything except number and evil, which is just an absence of good. The form of the good or the form of the form * Universal Qualities Justice Truth Beauty * * * Concepts and ideals * * * * * Physical living objects * * * * * * * * Physical inanimate objects * * * * * * * * * * The strengths of his theory are it explains how we recognise the essential elements of something. His argument helps us to understand why there are imperfections in the world. It encourages us to question and not to just accept things at face value. Weaknesses of his theory are you cannot prove his world of the forms exists. If you can have a form of a form called goodness what is to stop you from having a form of a form of a form, and while we are at why not a form of a form of form of a form? This argument is called infinite regression. Some people say that you cannot have a complete goodness it is subjective. See also Utilitarianism. It seems unlikely that you have an ideal form of everything could you have a form of a cancer from example? Platos argument does not help make sense of the world we live in. If the senses are inferior to logic how come humans have relied upon them for thousands of years? Plato does not specify whether when he is

talking of a form for everything does that everything includes all breads of dog or just god as a whole. The problem of incorporation, asks if the form of a triangle exists would it then not also need the form of a straight line. So is there just the form of a triangle or would there need to be a form of a triangle and the form of a straight line? Plato also said there was a form of largeness and a form of smallness. Now look at your ring finger. Does it participate in the form of largeness as your middle finger would or does it participate in the form of smallness as your little finger does? Is there a separate form for medium-ness? Do ugliness and the form of the bad need to have forms in the same way beauty and good do. Plato argues that ugliness is just the opposite of beauty and badness is just the opposite of goodness. But then why is it not possible to have it the other way around? Goodness is just a deprivation of bad things or beauty is just a lack of ugliness. Plato's pupil Aristotle agreed that there are forms of objects. But for Aristotle when we say that this chair has a form of a chair, all he means is it has the characteristics of a chair. For Aristotle the form of the object was in the object its self. "The form is not a separate entity but is a feature of all individual chairs. Hence, if there were no chairs, there would be no form of a chair." Although few people really believe in his ideas anymore he did ground one of the main foundations of philosophy called rationalism which is using logic only rather than your senses, this is usually because it is the persons opinion that the senses are untrustworthy and logic cannot be flawed because the basis of logic is made of absolute A priori truths.

By: Alfred. E. Veevers