Assessment of Plato's Forms Essay

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Plato (428/427 BC – 348/347 BC), a founder – the ‘father’ – of Western philosophy, states that knowledge can be derived from that which is true, objective, eternal, unchanging and absolute: The Forms. Plato put forth his response to the problem of universals as the Theory of Forms. Plato states therein that the ultimate reality can be found in the abstract ‘Form’, and not that which is available through experience. A Form, the essential idea – the ‘paradigm’ – of a given collection of what are considered comparable objects or notions, possesses the only true knowledge. Plato substantiates this theory with his theory of knowledge – largely expounded in the political allegory of The Republic – which will be exposed in the following pages to a critical assessment of its practicalities, values and implications. Plato wrote in a style known commonly as “Socratic dialogue”. Socrates was his mentor and, following his death, became the ‘protagonist’ in Plato’s dialogical writings. These writings, produced after the manner in which Socrates taught those who listened to him, are written so that the reader can follow the arguments developed through speech by Socrates and his interlocutors. His work The Republic, written circa 380 BC, is written in this style. It is a work that can be seen as a work of political philosophy, of ethics, or of both. Plato lived through a militaristic time in which the Athenian Empire suppressed the cities it conquered. Glory prevailed over justice and reason. Plato was concerned with the raising of children in a world where ethics were considered as relative to the contrary laws of the differing states. In Plato’s Republic, in which he compares the workings of a superlative republic with the ideal psyche, he was committed to defining justice and goodness so that it may be implicated by what he describes as his ‘Ideal State’ and set in

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