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Mrs Durcan-Smith

on 13 September 2018

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Transcript of Plato

Plato and the Forms
Know and understand who Plato was.
Know and understand Plato's teaching on the Forms.
Who was Plato?
Born 427 BCE in aristocratic and wealthy family, suspicious of new Athenian democracy
Never married or had children
Served in the military in war of Athens against Sparta
Died 347 BCE
Student and friend of Socrates, who died when Plato was 31
Traveled widely to learn about the world and different societies
Founded an Academy in 370 its most famous pupil and teacher was Aristotle.
Believed that a philosopher's job is to open people's eyes to the truth and help them strive to be good and fair.
Plato believed that men and women had the same intellectual powers, and was one of the first to teach that women should receive the same education as men.
A priori= Knowledge prior to experience.
A posteriori = Knowledge based on experience.
Each of you is going to get a card with an animal on it, without showing your card to anyone else draw the animal.
Swap your animal with someone other than the person next to you and then guess what they have drawn.
How did you work out what the animal was?
Maybe we can ask What do they have in common?
But species differ.
Plato says we have “a priori” knowledge of “cat, dog, cow or monkey”.
This means a knowledge prior to our sensing or ever having seen that animal.
The Worlds
For Plato, the world we live in is a World of Appearances and it is not the most important world.
The real world is the World of the Forms, a form is an idea of something, it is not physical but the eternal idea of what something is.
The World of Forms is more important because Forms don't change they are timeless and eternal.
In the World of Appearances there are only shadows, images or imitations of the forms
The Forms are present in the WoA as the form of a dog is somehow present in a dog.
So the WoA participates in the World of the Forms.
World of Appearances
World of Forms
The Forms
Take the dogs you drew before, there are lots of types but they all conform to the idea of what a dog is.
Plato argues that the true Form of a dog exists somewhere; it exists in the real world- the World of Forms.
A form is unchanging because it is an idea-physical objects in the world of appearances imitate or copy the Form.
But unlike it's copies the form is everlasting so it has to exist in a different reality.
Write a sentence describing something you think is beautiful
For Plato, it wasn't the forms of objects like dogs or cats that were important.
What concerned Plato were concepts such as beauty, justice and goodness.
The Forms
Plato saw that concepts like beauty could be applied to many different objects; a flower and a person can both reveal what beauty but so can a landscape or a painting so they are not the whole definition of beauty.
This led Plato to suggest that there is a form of Beauty to which objects correspond to a greater or lesser extent.
The Form of Beauty
Plato argued when we are born we have a dim recollection of the Forms because we have an immortal soul that was in the World of Forms before being incarnate in a body.
Plato's evidence of this was the fact that people can have a basic understanding of something like truth or beauty without ever being taught it.
We know something is beautiful instinctively even if we don't know the Form of Beauty.
Education, Plato believed, was about remembering and recalling the WotF (Anamnesis)
People don't learn new things through experience instead they learn through a process of understanding the reality of how things are.
e.g you learn that lying is wrong not because you were taught it but because your soul is remembering the Form of Truth it knew before its incarnation.
The Form of the Good
For Plato, the most important form is the Form of the Good. Just like with beauty we can see things are good but it does not show us all good is.
The Form of the Good makes things knowable and its the source of the other forms.
The Form of the Good enables us to understand and assess things.
Plato uses the analogy of sight to illustrate the importance of the Form of the Good.
Sight requires both light and the eye to see clearly. Light symbolises the Form of the Good, without the knowledge of the form you don't see clearly like trying to see in the dark.
For Plato, our understanding is divided into knowledge and opinion.
What we know is only opinion because we gain partial information, our understanding is limited and claims made through experience aren't true knowledge as what can be known through our senses is always changing as we are in the WoA and so whats right now may nor remain so forever.
Knowledge is reserved for our understanding of the Forms as they do not change and can offer certainty.
Knowledge of the Form of the Good is the highest knowledge humans are capable of. Its the ultimate explanation for everything.
Plato believed that knowledge was prior to experience- our souls have knowledge of the Forms and our understanding comes from remembering them.
Reason takes priority over the senses
Things only have meaning because they participate in the eternal Form, our natural condition is ignorance we wait to be enlightened.
Science (gaining empirical knowledge) is an incomplete quest as our world changing and only appearances.
Reason dictates how we interpret experience rather than experience providing basis for how we reason.
Downgrades human experience because our lives are only shadows.
Are there really Forms for everything, Plato was only interested in the Forms of concepts like beauty. He only mentions the Form of the Bed in the Republic and some suggest this is a joke.
Forms could just be ideas preserved in peoples mind. The forms are ideas in people's minds that they pass on to others.
Plato never clearly explains the link between Forms and WoA .e.g whats the link between the form of Justice and instances of Justice in the WoA.
The existence of any other world apart from the WoA cannot be proved.
The Third Man Argument
Aristotle put forward the following argument:
Suppose a man is a copy of the Form of Man, what's the origin of the Form of Man? Well the form is a copy of a previous form.
A copy of the Form could turn out to be an infinite series that never stopped, this renders the Theory of the Form meaningless as a way of explaining the ultimate origin of concepts such as beauty and good.
Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Copy of Form of Man
Third Man Argument
Read the article from the
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
You should highlight and make notes as you go.
Next lesson you should
bring in 8-10 key points
from the article.
Beauty to Me
Critically assess the metaphors in Plato's Analogy of the Cave (40)
The Question
Lets have a look at your key points from last lessons article.
The Analogy of the Cave
This is one of the most famous passages in Plato's republic.
Its one of three similes used by Plato to illustrate the
Theory of the Forms
- the others are the similes of the Line and Sun.
The Cave story is said to be allegorical (different elements are symbols)
The Analogy
Imagine people chained in a cave, far underground. The people are all facing a wall and are chained so that they can only look ahead.
The only light comes from a fire which is located behind the prisoners.
There is a wall between the fire and the prisoners.
Behind the wall other people walk up and down carrying statues on their heads.
All the prisoners see is the shadows cast by the statues on the wall in front of them.
The prisoners believe the shadows are reality-if they hear the people speaking they assume the voice comes from the shadows as this is all they see.
Suppose that one of the prisoners is freed, at first when he turns round he will be confused and not understand what he sees. Gradually he will become accustomed to the firelight and is able to see the statues.
He is confused as he believes the shadows are reality.
Then if that prisoner is dragged up a ramp to sunlight, he will not be able to see and will try to flee back to the cave. Gradually if prevent from going underground he will be able to see the world around him.
Finally he will realise the role of the sun (supporting life and the seasons) and he will no longer want to go back underground.
However out of duty he goes back to teach the prisoners about reality,when we goes back underground once again he can't see clearly.
When the other prisoners hear his story and observe that he sees little they are convinces its better to stay underground even wishing to put to death anyone who tries to free another prisoner.
Plato's Cave
The Symbolism
The tied prisoners are in a world of illusions, what they think is reality isn't.
Plato believed our situation is the same-we only see the illusions.
The prisoners need to be set free like the WoA imprisons a person by stopping them seeing the Forms.
The Statues are images of the forms, they are only imitations or copies of the true reality.
The people who carry the statues are people who share the same views as those chained up. They shape the prisoners views.
They lead the prisoners but have no more idea of the Forms than the prisoners.
They lead the people but do not know the truth-Plato criticised politicians and philosophers who do this so the people carrying the statue are politicians and philosophers.
When the prisoner is set free it is forced upon him. Plato believed that people needed to be taught but the act of teaching could be distressing and forced.
Robin Waterfield (Editor Plato's Republic 1994) suggests that the prisoners being more interested in the shadows than the real world represents the way culture, tradition and upbringing limit people's abilities to see the world in any way other than the way they were brought up with.
Above ground the prisoner gradually learns to see just like a philosopher gradually learns to distinguish forms from their copies.
The sun represents the Form of the Good-its the source of all life as the Form of Good is the source of all other forms.
The prisoner returns out of duty to educate others. Plato believed those who could see the Forms should lead society.
Knowledge of the Forms not a desire for power or fame is an essential quality in a ruler so that they govern wisely for society's good.
The prisoner cannot see clearly underground this represents the diffiulties of seeing the Forms in the WoA.
The prisoners laugh at the released prisoner. In ancient Greek society philophers were seen as rather odd.
The prisoners want to kill the free prisoner or anyone who wants to free them this could represent the death of Socrates.
The prisoners judge each other based on how well they can predict the shadows and how they are related. This is opinion not knowledge as however skilled they may be it is based on experience of illusions.
Education requires people to turn away from the superficiality of experience and contemplate eternal realities like the prisoner had to turn away from the world and go into the light.
The Cave is the WoA and the above is the WoF.
Plato believed that the Forms were interrelated, and arranged in a hierarchy. The highest Form is the Form of the Good, which is the ultimate principle.
The Good illuminates the other Forms. We can see that Justice, for example, is an aspect of Goodness. And again, we know that we have never seen, with our senses, any examples of perfect goodness, but we have seen plenty of particular examples which approximate goodness, and we recognise them as ‘good’ when we see them because of the way in which they correspond to our innate notion of the Form of the Good.
By Plato’s logic, real knowledge becomes, in the end, a knowledge of goodness; and this is why philosophers are in the best position to rule. The one who has philosophical knowledge of the Good is the one who is fit to rule. Plato’s belief in the fitness to rule of the philosopher is sometimes referred to as the ‘Philosopher King’ (even though Plato himself never used it).

Form of the Good
Plato's Analogy of the Cave
What does
it mean?
Read through the sheets on the cave Allegory and highlight/
make notes on the symbolism.
Strengths and

Plato would not have been concerned with the lack of physical evidence for them because his whole point was that the Forms are immaterial. Scientific approaches only accept theories based on physical evidence. Just because we have not seen it does not mean it does not exist. There may be some tropical bird in the deepest part of the jungle that no one has discovered yet. Just because we have no evidence of this bird does not mean that it doesn't exist.
"Plato offers a rational argument for the existence of another reality, which can be read off this world, even though not fully; this involves free choice”- Steven Evans
“The theory that there is another world than this…gives value and meaning to our present world...”- Brian Magee
Links to Christian thinking- the world of the Forms could relate to Heaven. The ultimate realities that we search for could link to the search for a greater purpose. Form of the Good could be God.
Plato argues that our immortal soul knows the forms. When people invent things where does the idea come from? Plato would argue it comes from our apriori knowledge of the forms. This is a plausible assumption.
Forms of justice and good help us to see the bigger picture. We stop to think what is good for us and think of what is Ultimate Goodness is. This stops up from closing off our minds to new ideas and truths.
Expands our knowledge and thought. It triggers new questions to be asked about truth, justice and goodness.
As far as the allegory itself is concerned, Plato has considered all of the angles and the possible objections. For instance, the prisoners have always been in the cave, they have always been shackled, and they have never been able to look around. In this hypothetical situation, all of what Plato says will bear out.
One of the primary strengths is Plato’s language and logic. He layers his arguments one on top of the other to create a mighty tower of argumentation that is tough to crack.
Mark Scheme A02
Mark Scheme A01
You need to include:
What is Plato's analogy of the Cave?
What does his analogy represent?
What are the strengths?
What are the weaknesses?
What do you think about Plato's Analogy?

You need to:
Mix the analogy with the symbolism don't do block paragraphs.
Try to match strengths and weaknesses and discuss together.
Give a conclusion with your own opinion backed up by evidence.
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