Explain Plato's theory of the realm of the forms

Topics: Platonism, Soul, Epistemology Pages: 2 (698 words) Published: December 3, 2014
Plato theorised that beyond the material world there was a “realm of ideas and concepts”; he calls these the Forms. A Form can be described as the “essence” of something, the very attributes and characteristics that make something what it is. For example, in the realm of the Forms there can be found a form which outlines all that a cat should be. All cats found on earth are in fact imitating this basic form, making them dim replications of true “catness”. At a basic level, Plato’s belief was that all objects, creatures and concepts were merely copies of their true Form, and that the job of a philosopher was to break free from this world of facsimiles and shadows – and truly come to understand and embrace the realm of the Forms. A key feature of a form is that they are transcendent. This means that they do not exist in space and time. For instance, an object (e.g. a bed) exists at one place at one time. However, forms operate in a different manner. A bed’s form of “softness” will never alter, as it does not exist in the material world, due to the fact it can be in more than one place at any given time. This is what allows us to understand a bed as soft, and for us to be able to identify many different types of bed by this characteristic. For Plato, education was a matter of recalling and remembering the world of the Forms – understanding the knowledge which is in the soul but hidden by the body. He stated that people cannot learn new things, and that learning was just a process of understanding the reality of how things are In his teachings, Plato explained the Forms to his students using a story he called “the analogy of the cave”. This story essentially summarises how he believed the reality we were seeing was not reality, only a vague depiction of true reality. Plato believed true reality was found in the realm of the forms, as that is where the basic model of everything we know can be found. In the analogy...
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