Plato's Theory of Form, Free Essay in Philosophy

Published: 2022-03-23 14:59:02
Plato's Theory of Form, Free Essay in Philosophy
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Philosophers
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1135 words
10 min read

Human beings have been inquisitive of nature since their creation. In fact, all scientific theories, religious doctrines, and philosophical ideas are the aftermath of human curiosity. The expedition of exploring reality is quite old with some of the most influential philosophers of all time having their roots in the ancient Greek. Socrates is among the most famous Greek philosophers and is widely referred to as the father of philosophy. Plato was Socrates' most famous student and a teacher to Aristotle all from Greek. Plato widely influenced western philosophy through his metaphysical, ethical and epistemological teachings and writing (Ajiz, 2011). For instance, he inspired the earliest teachings of Christian Church, crept into thinking of medieval scholastics and expounded a sect of influential philosophers in Britain among other contributions. The fulcrum of Platonism is the theory of forms, a doctrine that received surprisingly scant treatment in dialogue and which has been perceived as a response to pre-Socratics. However, there is rarely a consensus on philosophical principles. The theory of forms has also received objections from Aristotle, and most recently it was criticized by Russell.

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Plato responded to the pre-Socratics with the theory of form because he subscribed to the school of thought that the truth should be based on facts and perceptions. According to Plato, forms are neither mental entities nor mind-dependent. However, ideas are independently existing entities whose nature and being are only graspable by mind although they are not dependent on it for existence. Also, Plato believes that apart from the realm we live in, which is a material world, there is another outer sphere of concepts or forms. The Plato theory of forms speculates that non-physical form represents an accurate reality. The external domain is more factual than the material world, and it is not an object of opinion but that of knowledge. Therefore, it is permanent and unchanging as it is perceived real and perfect. In his early age as a student, Plato would refer to justice and beauty based on the society around which is typically imperfect.

Plato was also the first to postulate the preexistence of the human soul to account the human's knowledge of firms. In most of his argument, Plato was responding to the pre-Socrates theory of forms even though the pre-Socratic ideas were in nature. According to Plato's dialogue and other speeches, every object, in reality, has a form. In his Socratic dialogues, Plato also argued that the material world is changeable and unreliable as only the truth is reliable. He also believed that behind the world of appearances is permanence and reliability. The permanent world is real because it is the world of forms. However, according to the pre-Socratic argument on theory formed by stating that forms are not limited to shapes but to anything that occupies space such as a mountain, dogs, and chairs. He indicated that for every conservable thing, there is a corresponding form.

According to Plato people attempt to recreate the form and ended up being the pale image of the perfect idea. Everything in the world is imperfect though they are presented in an ideal way. Most forms exist in an abstract condition, but they are also independent of their minds and can be perfect depending on one's judgment of the perfection. Therefore, based on Plato's argument, everything is relative. If one can imagine or conceive an idea of a perfect thing in mind, then the object exists. If you think that the notion is accurate, then it is impeccable from your perspective, and another' person's argument or judgment on the perfection of an object does not affect the quality of the object. True and reliable knowledge can only exist and rest on those who can comprehend the true value of the object. Additionally, based on Plato's philosopher king, men are required to perceive the form of goodness to be well-informed rulers. The same argument is also present in the allegory of the cave. Therefore, only those who can recognize the idea should be allowed to rule.

Aristotle's Response to Plato's Theory of Form

However, Aristotle did not uphold Plato's theory of forms where ideas were the central theme in Plato's metaphysics. He argued that Plato's theory of forms could not be empirically proven because the approach cannot be observed first and proven using abstract reasoning. According to aristocrats, the form theory fails to explain the existence of permanence and order and the manner people could have objective knowledge of the world. By extrication the realm of form from that of material, Plato made it challenging and impossible to relate the way at which world of form made objectivity and permanence conceivable in the material domain.

Aristotle's objections are based on the obscurity of the notion imitation and the third man argument concepts. According to Plato, the imperfect objects imitates or participates in the form realm to make them knowable and acquire an order. Nevertheless, to aristocrats, it is impossible to elaborate this relation and the actual meaning of imitation or participation. In fact, forms properties such as being external, transcendent and permanent are all discordant with material objects (Wennergren et al. 2015). In Aristotle justification, he put across a comparison of white object participating or imitating the form of whiteness thus breaking down the link between the material and form realm as put across by Platonists.

In the third man argument given in one of Plato's dialogue, the resemblance between two material objects is due to their joint participation in a collective form. For instance, two objects which are grey resemble each other by virtual of being imitations of greyish. However, this resemblance between the grey objects and the greyish will have to be explained using another form which is impossible to describe. Therefore, the theory of form gives a definitive explanation on similarities of objects but another form beyond the proposed one explain the resemblances. Likewise, when several individuals are men, there is a form of a man in which they participate (Ajiz, 2011). Therefore, based on Plato's theory for a successful comparison one need an infinite number of men which is not a particle.

In conclusion, Plato's theory of form has given enlightenment on various aspects of life such as imperfection, face value, the resemblance of substances and the abstract concepts. However, the theory is open to critics and suffers from numerous shortfalls especially in setting ideal standards and categorization problems. It is therefore impossible to rank and compare particular things especially those that are unpleasant. Aristotle, therefore seems more convincing than Plato and his objection are genuine.


Ajiz, A. (2011). Aristotle's Criticism of Plato's Theory of Forms. English Literary Society.Retrieved from

Wennergren, V., Wennergren, L., Clegg, B., & Penrose, R. (2015). Aristotle's criticism of Plato'stheory of forms | Aristotle | Plato. Scribd. Retrieved from

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