Plato s Forms Essay

Submitted By snelley
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Pages: 7

Plato’s Forms and The Ultimate Basis of Reality Plato, a philosopher that lived more than 2,400 years ago, has proven himself to be, as time has elapsed, one of the brightest men ever to inhabit the earth. Although it is not certain, it is believed that he was born a little over 400 years before Christ in ancient Greece. He was brought up in the home of a wealthy and influential family in Athens and his parents made sure that he got the best education money could buy. Before I discuss Plato further, it is critically important that we shed some light on the man he studied under, another incredible thinker famously known as Socrates. Plato believed Socrates had some tremendously remarkable thoughts about the world with regards, in particular, to the many questions he asked about ideas already established. Though almost all of the life and teachings of Socrates was undocumented, as he was never one to write anything down, we are able to learn about him through the work of his students. Many of Plato’s most recognized works, for instance, Euthyphro, Apology and the Republic, were written in the form of dialogues, each being a set up conversation between Socrates and one of his followers. They often began the same way with Socrates asking the person a sequence of questions. After they would give their answer, it was common for Socrates to again pose another question, thereby forcing them to think even deeper about the idea at hand. Although he was regarded as a brilliant man, his methods of constantly pointing out the ignorance of others not only gained him the reputation for being an annoyance, but it ultimately led to him being charged with, “corrupting the youth and failing to acknowledge the gods of Athens1,” which in turn, led to his execution.
It could be said that Plato picked up where Socrates left off before he died. Socrates would ask if it were possible for us as human beings to know the true nature of Virtue, of Good, of Justice, etc. And where many failed to thoroughly answer Socrates’ questions, Plato simply said yes, by means of what he famously refers to as his Theory of the Forms. This theory encompasses what is undoubtedly the most significant philosophical ideology Plato has ever come up with. Using this theory, Plato deems it possible to find the true being of virtue, good, justice, etc. or rather to find its form. From this, the idea of Metaphysics was created. Metaphysics itself is defined as a, “branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it, although the term is not easily defined2.” In short, Plato was the very first example of a metaphysical thinker. However, Socrates was not the only philosophical influence Plato used in formulating his ideas about the forms. Two examples of a handful of Pre Socratic thinkers whose ideas influenced those behind Plato’s forms are Parmenides of Elea and Pythagoras of Samos.
Parmenides of Elea was one of the first thinkers to inquire about the nature of Being and Truth. His one written work is a poem that he divides into three separate parts, the first being The Proem, the second The Way of Truth, and the third The Way of Opinion. In The Way of Truth, he makes it clear that there are only two ways to think about, what he refers to as, what is and what is not. “The one (way), that it is and it is impossible that ‘not-to-be’ is; The other that is not and that it is necessary that ‘not-to-be’ is (I.53 Parmenides, fr.2).” This idea, revolving around his premise, ‘it is,’ simply means that what is, is, and what is not could never be, since it is impossible for anything that is not to in fact exist. In our universe, air exists, water exists, humans exist etc. But what doesn’t exist, there are no examples for, since they never were nor will they be in existence. Although complex, it is a very genius notion. And although there are many different things that we can sense and think about, everything that is, is