Thursday, August 4, 2011

Platonic Doctrine of Forms or Ideas

The Forms or Ideas are those changeless, eternal, and nonmaterial essences or patterns of which the actual visible objects we see are only poor copies. There is the Form of the Triangle and all the triangles we see are mere copies of the Form. This tentative description of the Forms as non-material realities already indicates what was so novel bout this Platonic doctrine: Whereas the pre-Socratic philosophers thought of reality as material stuff of some sort, Plato now designated the non-material Ideas or Forms as the true reality.
Knowledge is not concerned simply with passing facts and appearances, with the realm of becoming. Knowledge seeks what truly is: its concern is with Being. Although Plato is not sure that there are Ideas or Forms of dog, water, and other things, he indicates in the Parmenides that there are "certainly not" Ideas of mud and dirt. Clearly, if there were Forms behind all classifications of things, there would have to be a duplicate world. 

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