Plato's Theory of Forms and Ideas

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The doctrine of Forms or Ideas is the central to Plato’s entire philosophical thought. By this unique contribution, Plato made a real distinction between the visible world and the intelligible world, between appearance and reality. For Plato, the Forms or Ideas are changeless, eternal and non-material essences of the visible objects. So, the visible objects are merely poor copies of the Forms. For instance, a beautiful person is a copy of Beauty. It indicates that a person shares more or less an Idea of Beauty. Moreover, this doctrine represents a serious attempt to explain the nature of existence, because we have certain kinds of experiences which raise the question about existence for us. For example, we make judgments about things and behavior, saying about a thing that it is beautiful and about an act that it is good. This implies that there is somewhere a standard of Beauty and Good, separate from the person and his act about which we are making judgments. And compared with the visible things, which come and go general and perish, Ideas or Forms seem timeless. They have more being than things. Plato, therefore, concludes that the real world is not the visible world, rather the intelligible world. He insists that the intelligible world is most real, because it consists of the eternal Forms. What are the Forms? Plato’s answer to this question is that Forms are eternal patters of the visible objects and the objects are only copies of these Forms. Thus, a beautiful object is a copy of Beauty. In the Symposium, Plato suggests that we normally understand Beauty first of all in a particular object or person. But having discovered beauty in this limited form, we soon perceive that the beauty of one form is akin to another. So, we move from the beauty of particular body to the recognition that beauty in every Form is one and the same. The effect of the discovery is
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