Essay on Part B Platos Criticisms

Submitted By EleanorRawson
Words: 807
Pages: 4

‘A’ Level Philosophy and Ethics

Criticisms of Plato’s Theories
Plato’s Analogy of the Cave
Plato used the Analogy of the Cave to criticise the unphilosophical and to
“get back” at the rulers of Athens who had executed his tutor, Socrates. He argued that the world that we perceive is a world of illusions, of “shadows” of the “real” world of the Form. He thought that every object in our world corresponds to its Form in the World of Ideas.

Plato believes that our experience of the Form pre-dates our experience of the “real” object.
Aristotle, Plato’s pupil, was critical of this idea – he believed that the “Form” is developed through continued experience of physical things.

Is the World of the Form Reasonable?

It does not seem reasonable that we have access to this
“World of Ideas”. It may be reasonable that there can be
“perfect forms” of concrete objects, and those ideas can exist eternally, whereas the concrete objects are subject to constant change.
§ There could be concepts of perfection – beauty, justice and the good – but Plato’s argument that there is a world where these concepts exist seems unreasonable.
§ Are these concepts simply a way of understanding the world around us? If this is so, they exist only in the realm of language, and not in a real “World of the Form”.
§ Plato argues that the World of the Form is “self-evident” – most people would disagree! Self-evident is usually taken to mean that there is evidence that is incontrovertible!
Assuming there are Forms of all the things in the world – what are these forms like? If, as Plato claims, they are self-evident , then their nature should be self evident too.
There would be no debate over the nature of the Form of the Horse – we would all know it.
§ Does the World of the Form also include the Form of the
Cockroach and Smallpox Virus?

How do things in the real world relate to their Forms?

We can imagine there being a “Form of the Horse” to which the objects in the real world refer to.
§ Does the single Form refer to all objects, or does each object have its own form?
§ If the single Form of the Horse is perfect, are the varieties of horses different through their imperfections, or is there an individual form for every horse, mule and donkey ever to have lived?

Criticisms of Plato’s Theories

Plato believed that the highest form is the Form of the Good. He believed this
Form to be like the sun in the Allegory of the Cave – it illuminates all the other forms. All the other forms are a derivation of the Form of the Good. We recognise things in our world which are “good”, but they are still oart of the contingent world and subject to change. We know they are good because we have knowledge of the Form of the Good.

How do we know what goodness is? There doesn’t appear to be complete agreement on this!
§ There is an argument over relative and absolute ethics.
§ Society’s values change – over time and also in