In the world of philosophy, Plato is one of the most celebrated and studied philosophers.
One of his major works is elucidation of ‘Forms’ which he describes them as supra-sensible entities. According to him, ‘Forms’ or ‘ideas’ are none mental entities and do not depend upon human mind. Plato’s main point on the ‘Forms’ is that it is only by studying them genuine knowledge can be obtained.
His major work on the Forms came about in his attempt to come up with a concrete solution to worlds problems (Dancy, pp11). Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is to discuss theory of Forms as one of the main contributions of Plato. To grasp what is all about the theory of forms, he explains various qualities possessed by the forms. Transcendence is one of the characteristics possessed by forms.
They are inherently in the nature and they are not limited to space and time. Due to the fact that forms epitomize a single property they are said to be pure. Material objects are impure simply because they combine more than one property such as hardness, redness and circularity just to mention but a few.
Another attribute of forms is that they are archetypes. By this it means that they are perfect examples of that which they stand for He further maintains that all material objects as reflection of forms because forms are ultimate real entities and reality of object forms is derived from the forms themselves. Another characteristic of forms is that they are causes of all things in that they are real source of the being of all things in the world. Lastly, Plato maintains that there is systematical interconnectedness in forms as seen in dialectic process that we acquire from knowledge of forms (Dancy, pp 299). Plato formulated the theory of forms as a result of major problems in the world which he attempted to solve.
The first problem which he attempted to solve was ethical problem. Before then, it was not clear how possible it was for humans to lead a fulfilling life in yet changing world in which those things they attach to them can be deprived from them. The second problem was the problem of permanence and change. Solution to this problem sought to address the question on how it is possible that the world appear to be both changing and permanent.
As he attempted to provide solution to these grand problems, he first broke up the existence into two realms namely: material realm and transcendent realm of forms. Plato maintains that human beings are able to access the realm of forms by use of their mind through reasoning. By so doing, this facilitates to have access to unchanging world that is free from pain and changes that are witnessed in material world. However, it calls for detachment of an individual from the material world and from the body as one gets more concerned with forms. He affirms that only through this way we find a value that is neither subject to disintegration nor change (Dancy, pp314). Similarly, by breaking up existence up into two realms it helps to provide an answer to problem of permanence and change. In regard to this problem, through our mind we perceive a different world which has different objects.
This is possible through our senses. However, material world is always changing but the realms of form which are perceived though mind there are permanent. He declares that it is this world which is real and that the world of change is just but imperfect reflection of real world.
Therefore, in regard to Plato’s theory of Forms, human beings are prone to deception from their senses on how they discern the world around them. Importantly, objects that they perceive using their senses are just but images or even experiences from their mind. So, the more the object is objective, the more the real the object that is being described becomes.
Russell. Plato’s introduction of forms. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.