Need help on essay outline for Plato's Theory of Forms!

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ryz0n
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 10:06 pm
Hi guys, I was just wondering if anyone could help me finish my outline or correct anything wrong with it regarding this topic. I mainly need help with the last one being, "Why does Plato defend the independent existence of forms?"

Explain and discuss Plato's claim that there are ideal 'Forms' that exist independently of all physical objects. What are Forms supposed to be? Why does Plato introduce this notion? And why does he later also defend the independent existence of Forms.

And here's my outline

I. Introduction
a. We can observe through Plato's various works that he encounters difficulty in defining universals like justice, piety, etc.
-Euthyphro shows the incorrect definition of piety. Plato wants to find what piety is, not what makes something pious.
b. Thesis: In an attempt to provide a definition for intangible universals, Plato constructs a theory of forms to show that the sensible world of particulars are mere imitations of the real world where forms reside, independent of thought and existing in their own metaphysical domain that can be accessed through the mind using reason.


II. What forms are
a. Plato argues that what we observe in our world, or the sensible world, are imitations and copies of the real world (the world of forms)
i. Cave Theory: We only see the shadows of real objects, therefore we do not see things in their whole or entirety.
ii. Forms are ultimately the real entities.
b. Forms are transcendent properties or qualities of objects that exist independently of physical objects.
i. They are conceptual and are accessed through our minds ability to conceive them.
1. They are perfect models of which all material objects are based upon.
ii. They are pure and exist outside of spacetime.
1. Ex: A material basketball is the collection of the forms roundness, orangeness, ballness, bounciness, etc.
c. Forms are the causes of all material things
i. They are the cause of all knowledge we have of objects
ii. They are the cause of everything that exists.


III. The implications and importance of Forms
a. Plato introduces Forms as a means to find a definition for qualities such as justice, piety, equality, etc.
b. To know of a form, one must reason and rationalize it.
i. Further asserts that to be just, one must be aware of the form of justice, something that can only be done with philosophy.
1. In a just state, the philosopher is king as he has the ability to apprehend the form of justice and maintain it in the politics of the city and the souls of the people.
ii. Euthyphro cannot define piety and only gives examples of pious actions. He creates a circular argument, i.e. Piousness is what is loved by the gods, or the gods love what is pious.
1. Clarifies why we cannot define "justice" or "good" but can recognize it. (Souls exist in the world of forms before birth)
iii.


IV. Why they are independent of physical objects
a. Forms are independent of physical existence and thus, are unchanging.
i. If two people are talking about justice, they must be talking about the same thing since the Form of justice is permanent and unchanging.
ii.


V. Conclusion
a.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 10:20 pm
@ryz0n,
Its been a while since I have studied the Republic, but from your outline you seem to follow the apparent argument with the theory of the forms. The problem though is that you would be missing the main point of the cave allegory.

While this video is kind of a joke, the point of the allegory is illustrated well. By the way, if you tell me where in the Republic the argument is made I will go back and read the argument again, and then give more thoughts later.
YouTube - plato - The cave
 
ryz0n
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 10:26 pm
@ryz0n,
I guess the prompt is regarding the Euthyphro as well as The Republic Book V.473a-VI.487a, and VI.502c-VII.525a. It has to deal with the just state and the philosopher being king as the ruler needs reason to apprehend the forms and understand truth and reality.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 10:48 pm
@ryz0n,
I will take a look at the texts tomorrow since I have the day off. I have not actually read the Euthyphro so that should be interesting and I will look at that part of Book V as well. I actually know the argument that you really want, but I want to go back over it again because it is not fresh in my mind. I had a wonderful professor that gave outstanding lectures on the cave allegory and the philosopher.
 
ryz0n
 
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2009 11:14 pm
@ryz0n,
awesome man, I appreciate it.
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2009 07:44 am
@ryz0n,
Yes, I agree with Theaetetus, your outline is mostly right in its generals, but you're missing the point of the cave. (Actually, like most good parables, it has a lot of points). What I get out of the cave is that light = knowledge. The limited light of the prisoners is the regular knowledge we normally use; leaving the cave, the one prisoner finds the outside world and the light of Truth (real knowledge), and upon returning, for this must be what the philosopher does, not just glory in the light of Truth but try to teach those not already there how to get to it, he tries to tell his fellow prisoners about this world that exists outside the cave and they look at him like he's all kinds of bonkers.
Thinking about this again, it seems that the cave parable might be an interesting description of "enlightenment" as the Indians know it...Hmm...

Of course, I myself may be missing the point of the cave...

You know what? Take your idea that the world outside the prisoners' perception is the world of the Forms and follow it to its logical conclusion. I don't think anybody's taken that path for some time (if at all)...I wonder where it leads? Like I said, the cave is a parable, and like any good parable, it's meant to teach us many things at many levels.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2009 09:36 am
@ryz0n,
Hammer pretty much hits the main point. The idea of the philosopher-king is that he possesses true knowledge, thus is best prepare to rule the people, and it is their job to lead the others to the light/true knowledge that is offered outside the cave.
 
ryz0n
 
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2009 10:11 pm
@ryz0n,
Cool thanks for the help. Ive definitley included the sun analogy and the rest of the cave allegory under section 3, but do you have anyhing to say about the independence of forms and why plato defends it? I brought up things like the
Form of good and how we are born able to recognize such forms like justice, equalit love etc. I dont have much more regarding their independent nature
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 03:41 pm
@ryz0n,
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 and idea, 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 and darshana) 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.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 04:36 pm
@ryz0n,
ryz0n wrote:
Hi guys, I was just wondering if anyone could help me finish my outline or correct anything wrong with it regarding this topic. I mainly need help with the last one being, "Why does Plato defend the independent existence of forms?"

Explain and discuss Plato's claim that there are ideal 'Forms' that exist independently of all physical objects. What are Forms supposed to be? Why does Plato introduce this notion? And why does he later also defend the independent existence of Forms.

And here's my outline

I. Introduction
a. We can observe through Plato's various works that he encounters difficulty in defining universals like justice, piety, etc.
-Euthyphro shows the incorrect definition of piety. Plato wants to find what piety is, not what makes something pious.
b. Thesis: In an attempt to provide a definition for intangible universals, Plato constructs a theory of forms to show that the sensible world of particulars are mere imitations of the real world where forms reside, independent of thought and existing in their own metaphysical domain that can be accessed through the mind using reason.


II. What forms are
a. Plato argues that what we observe in our world, or the sensible world, are imitations and copies of the real world (the world of forms)
i. Cave Theory: We only see the shadows of real objects, therefore we do not see things in their whole or entirety.
ii. Forms are ultimately the real entities.
b. Forms are transcendent properties or qualities of objects that exist independently of physical objects.
i. They are conceptual and are accessed through our minds ability to conceive them.
1. They are perfect models of which all material objects are based upon.
ii. They are pure and exist outside of spacetime.
1. Ex: A material basketball is the collection of the forms roundness, orangeness, ballness, bounciness, etc.
c. Forms are the causes of all material things
i. They are the cause of all knowledge we have of objects
ii. They are the cause of everything that exists.


III. The implications and importance of Forms
a. Plato introduces Forms as a means to find a definition for qualities such as justice, piety, equality, etc.
b. To know of a form, one must reason and rationalize it.
i. Further asserts that to be just, one must be aware of the form of justice, something that can only be done with philosophy.
1. In a just state, the philosopher is king as he has the ability to apprehend the form of justice and maintain it in the politics of the city and the souls of the people.
ii. Euthyphro cannot define piety and only gives examples of pious actions. He creates a circular argument, i.e. Piousness is what is loved by the gods, or the gods love what is pious.
1. Clarifies why we cannot define "justice" or "good" but can recognize it. (Souls exist in the world of forms before birth)
iii.


IV. Why they are independent of physical objects
a. Forms are independent of physical existence and thus, are unchanging.
i. If two people are talking about justice, they must be talking about the same thing since the Form of justice is permanent and unchanging.
ii.


V. Conclusion
a.


It seems to me that IV a. Shlould Just be, that Forms are unchanging. The first five words just express what you are supposed to prove.

One argument for Forms is sort of the one you give in IV i. It is that the Forms are necessary if two instances of the same term are to have the same meaning. In this way, Forms are really supposed to me the meanings of nouns. You should make that clearer.

Forms are also necessary as standards. One instance of a dog is a better instance than another because it is more like the Form of dog. Without Forms, we could not judge whether one instance of X was a better (or worse) instance of X than another.
 
Adam Cuniglio
 
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2014 03:44 pm
@hammersklavier,
How does this lead him(Plato) to postulate two worlds? what is the relationship between these two worlds?
 
 

 
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