Q) Explain the criticisms that have been made of Plato’s theory of the forms. (25)
Plato was a well respected and acknowledged Greek philosopher who lived between the years of 428 B.C.E and 348 B.C.E. One of his most recognised theories is ‘Theory of the Forms’ with which he attempts to explain how Earth came about and also touches upon the subject of afterlife. Plato introduced this theory to educate so called ‘ignorant’ people and encourage them to question and rebel against their narrow minded society. Plato argues that everything in this world has been designed to mimic that of the same essence in another realm, known as the world of the Forms. This world is ‘true reality’ and contains the perfect form of all things we know from our current world, be it objects, animals or even humanity. He says that we only recognise things in this world because of apriori knowledge that we poses from the World of the Forms. According to Plato, our souls originate from the World of the Forms where they have collected information, before bonding with our bodies. The soul strives to return to the World of the Forms after death. Despite the fact that Plato’s theory of the forms has remained for over 2000 years and influenced a number of modern religious teachings, many criticisms can be made about it.
Firstly, Plato mentions a ‘Demiurge’ in his theory, but does not go into detail about why he chose to recreate the world of the Forms, how many times he has attempted to, whether he interferes with the illusionary world regularly and why he abandoned Earth after moulding it from corrupt matter.
Secondly, I would like to mention the ‘third man argument’. This notices that if a class of men from this world all derive from 1 superior man in the world of the Forms, then he too belongs to the class of men as they all share the same essence. Therefore, there must be one superior man who is above and beyond this new class of men, but again we still have the problem of him...