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Explain Plato's Form of the Good

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Explain Plato's Form of the Good

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  • October 2013
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Explain what Plato meant by the Form of the Good (25)

Plato (427 -347 BCE) believed that the world we live in was nothing more than a mere reflection of a more perfect world out of our reach. He is one of the most famous philosophers in history, influencing the development of the modern world we live in today. His main idea, was the theory of Forms. He argued that everything we see in our world, is an imperfect reflection of the Form of that object in the World of the Forms. He was mainly interested in those things we couldn’t touch, such as beauty or justice, rather than things such as tables or animals. Plato believed the World of the Forms was more real than the world we live in, the World of Appearances.

Plato was a dualist, meaning he believed that the soul predates the body in the World of the Forms. It was his view that the soul observed the Forms in this life, but the memory of it is dimmed during incarnation, and so upon entering the body we do not know what the real Forms are. He argued that knowledge is a priori, meaning when we learnt something, we were actually recalling it from our time spent amongst the Forms. For example, when you were younger and you learnt that lying is wrong, to him this was not matter of being taught. He believed you were simply remembering the Form of Truth that your soul knew before incarnation.

Plato deemed the most important Form to be the Form of the Good. He believed that “all the Forms gain their usefulness and value from the Form of the Good” and that they all carry something of the Good in them. The Form of the Good was regarded as the source of all Forms, he believed it supported all the Forms, and without the Form of the Good, they would all cease to exist. Plato claimed that only those who could comprehend the Form of the Good were fit to rule, these people became known as Philosopher Kings even though Plato himself never used the phrase. It was his belief, that someone who knew the...