Explain the Criticisms of Plato's Theory of the Forms.

1584 Words Jul 18th, 2003 7 Pages
Plato's theory of forms, also called his theory of ideas, states that there is another world, separate from the material world that we live in called the "eternal world of forms". This world, to Plato, is more real than the one we live in. His theory is shown in his Allegory of the Cave (from The Republic, Book VII), where the prisoners only live in what they think is a real world, but really it is a shadow of reality. According to Plato, to the prisoners in the allegory and to humanity in the material world "truth would be literally nothing but shadows" and he believes us to be as ignorant as the people in the cave. Plato followed the belief that in order for something to be real it has to be permanent, and as everything in the world we …show more content…
Goodness is something that cannot be defined, when asked, different people have different ideas about what is good, or right and wrong, whereas if everybody was asked to point to the sun they all would. This disproves his theory as not everybody has a true understanding of the Form of the Good.

Plato fails to set out his theory clearly and allow the reader to realise it is a theory. Nowhere in his dialogues does he state that he is describing a theory of forms, and so people may have misunderstood his writing s and he may not have meant it to be a theory at all. He has elements of his theory in many different dialogues and is inconsistent. In Book I of the Metaphysics Aristotle claims that Plato had a "system" to the effect that "the many sensibles which have the same name exist by participating in the corresponding Forms." This quote from Aristotle's work suggests that Plato did have a theory of forms but this is not believed by all people.

None of these criticisms totally disallow Plato's theory but argue against it and suggest other possibilities. Although there are many critics of Plato there are also many people who follow him, and even in this day and age Plato's ideas are understood and followed and he has ended up being one of the most influential philosophers although his Theory of Forms is slightly over the top and hard to understand.

To a certain extent these criticisms are valid, but in other ways they are not. In my opinion they are valid as far as

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