Plato believes the Forms are independent of their physical extensions (i.e., actual objects) because the Form represents an ideal state of said object. Take a desk: now this desk may just be four legs holding up a piece of wood, and the legs aren't perfectly even so it wobbles somewhat, but the ideal
desk, the Form of the desk (o eidos tou grafou
in Mdn. Greek IIRC) has all the attributes of perfect "deskiness," so to speak--that is, it fulfills all the functional and
aesthetic qualities of the perfect desk, and since (of course) no material desk can fulfill these qualities, no physical
desk can be a desk's Form (eidos
) and, therefore, the Form of the desk is immaterial and immutable; and all our desks are merely extensions
into the material world of the Form.
Some problems with this arguments are obvious straight off. For one think, a desk has parts, and so (because the Form of the desk has only those attributes all
desks have in common) the Form itself
must be made of parts--that is, just as a regular desk has parts, so too must the Form have other Forms making it up: thus the Form of desk-legs, itself made of the Form of legs (in general), itself the Form of ... and so on and so forth until you reach a point where all the photons and neutrons and green charmed quarks (and so on and so forth) in the Universe all have to have metaphysical immutable Forms of their own. In other words, the theory starts straining under its own weight. It collapses, and this is why Descartes, with his mechanism*, so effectively undermined and destroyed Scholastic formalism.
It is also interesting to note that the two words Plato employed for "form", eidos
, are both derived from the Gk. past participle "seen", eido
, which is evidently an ancient Indo-European form; thus Sanskrit drish
(and from it rishi
) are distant cognates. Why would Plato use a word for Form
that literally means "that which is seen"?
*As in the school of philosophy practiced by mechanists
, not the spinning bits in clocks and suchlike.