The Persuasiveness of Plato’s Theory of the Forms

Plato’s theory of forms states that the physical world is actually not the real world, but the ultimate reality only exists beyond what we can see in the real world. Plato claims that there is the physical and the spiritual realm. The physical realm involves objects that interact with and see daily. The physical realmis subject to change and does not remain perfect. The spiritual realm is the realm of ideals and exists way beyond the physical realm. The physical realm is regarded as a shadow of the true reality, which is the realm of ideals or forms. Plato defines forms as abstract, perfect, and constant ideas that are not affected by time or space. The forms are regarded to be more real than anything physical despite being defined as abstract.

Plato states that since the physical world is changeable, it is therefore unpredictable. Seasons are signs of change, and nothing stays permanent forever. For instance, a mathematician can give a description of a perfect triangle. The description given by a mathematician is regarded as a form of the triangle, which exists in an abstract and independent state in our minds. This understanding of a perfect triangle idea can lead us to draw using paper and pencil, but the drawing will not meet the description of a perfect triangle that we have in our minds as described by a mathematician. The form of the triangle is a perfect idea, while that of the drawing is imperfect. Plato believed that truth and reliability exist for those who understand the actual reality that is represented by the imperfect reality that we encounter every day.

One of the critics of Plato’s theory of forms was Aristotle, who argued that forms could not exist independently because they are associated with other things. A form is attributed to something and may cease to exist if that thing is no longer available. For instance, the idea of beauty is meant to make sense and explain the extent to which something seems appealing. This cannot be categorized as perfect or imperfect as the logic used in Plato’s theory of forms. Aristotle introduces the traits of accidental and essential in things which indicates that some things can lose shape or parts and still be what they used to be.

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