Fundamental to understanding the philosophy of Plato is in the comprehending of his Theory of Forms. Through the allegory of the Myth of the Cave contained in his work the Republic, Plato demonstrates that there are two realms: The Visible World, that which contains ever changing objects perceived by the senses, and The Intelligible World, that which contains the eternal Forms, which can only be understood through knowledge and the intellect.
The Visible World is represented by the inside of a cave where prisoners are chained together facing the back wall. Animals and people move back and forth in front of a fire that has been placed at the entrance of the outside of the cave. Shadows of the forms are cast on the wall that the prisoners can see. The prisoners, who are dependent on their senses, then assume that the reflections that they can see, is reality. This view of reality represents what an uneducated person knows to be true.
A Prisoner escapes the cave and steps into the Intelligible World. Once he has adapted to the light of the good he comes to understand the true nature of reality. He understands that true reality is eternal. By reasoning that the an object viewed through the sense of sight will be transitory in nature and therefore perish, whereas an object that is conceived as the essence of the object will always be, the prisoner turned philosopher then recollects what his soul has always known to be true. True reality as expressed through the Forms brings the essence of becoming into being.
Plato’s Theory of Forms was his answer for two opposing theories of thought. Heraclitus held that reality was in constant motion and was continually changing; therefore, permanence is an illusion. Parmenides held that reality is permanent, claiming that all change, motion, and time was an illusion. How can reality be constantly changing if reality is permanent?
Plato ingeniously incorporated these two opposing points of views to further his...