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Lecture 5: Plato

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  1. Lecture 5: Plato

  2. Today’s Lecture In Today’s lecture we will: Recap what we learned about Plato’s theory of reality in lecture Clarify Plato’s argument for the existence of eternal forms Investigate Plato’s ‘Divided Line’ Investigate Plato’s allegory of the cave Consider some criticisms of Plato’s theory of reality Briefly Consider Some alternatives Conclude our investigation into Plato’s theory of reality

  3. Recap

  4. The question of reality (Metaphysics) • What is reality? • What are things made of? • What is the ultimate? • What is it that everything depends on for its existence? • What is really real? • How do we distinguish between what is real and what is mere illusion? • The problem of the one and the many • What is the ultimate reality (the One)? • How is everything else (the Many) related to the One? Topic Recap

  5. Ontological options • Ontology is the study of what exists, what is real etc. • Ontology is a branch of metaphysics. • Most theories of reality maintain one of the following ontological beliefs: • Monism • The belief that reality is composed of one thing. • Dualism • The belief that reality is composed of two things. • Pluralism • The belief that reality is composed of many things. • Nihilism • The view that nothing exists Topic Recap

  6. In answer to the question; what is reality? Plato answers: • Reality is composed of Two distinct worlds: • The Space-Time world of BECOMING (the world according to the senses) • The transcendent world of BEING (a world not experienced by the five senses but still related to the world of Becoming) • Objects in each world exhibits the following characteristics: Topic Recap Objective Transcendent Eternal Intelligible Archetypal Perfect Transcendent world of BEING Space-Time world of BECOMING Subjective Spatiotemporal Changeable Sensible Copied Imperfect

  7. In answer to the question; what is reality? Plato answers: • The space-time world of Becoming is full of Sensible objects (we can sense them) • The transcendent world of Being is furnished with Forms (or Ideas) which impart essence onto worldly objects • Forms are related to objects by: • The extent something reflects the True form • The extent something participates in the True form • Plato divides between Higher Forms (things without physical manifestation) and Lower Forms (things that manifest physically) Topic Recap Form (Idea) chairs Transcendent world of BEING Space-Time world of BECOMING

  8. ...some clarification

  9. Clarification of Plato’s reasoning (the problem of universals) • Heraclitus: • There is no One Unchanging Thing except change; the world undergoes constant changes (Heraclitus) • The Problem: • Plato: Option 1 leads to impossible conclusions (we could not know or discuss anything). But we do know some things and talk about them. • Plato’s Assumption: • There must be One Unchanging Thing or knowledge and discussion (language) would be impossible. • Plato’s Conclusion: • What is this One? Transcendent, eternal , unchanging Forms in the world of Being Clarification of Plato’s Reasoning

  10. The Divided Line

  11. Plato’s Divided Line Epistemology(Thought) Metaphysics (Objects) D C B A Higher Forms Understanding Being(Intelligible World) Knowledge Mathematical Forms Reason Sensible Objects Perception Opinion Becoming (Visible World) Images Imagination

  12. The Allegory of the Cave

  13. Hierarchy of Plato’s Theory of Reality Higher Forms Mathematical Forms Lower Forms Sensible Objects Images Plato’s Cave The Good The Form of the Good is the ultimate Form and the source of all knowledge and existence Each being is derived from the next being up

  14. Plato’s Cave SUN In VISIBLE WORLD By its LIGHT Cause of SIGHT And existence of objects and sight GOOD In INTELLIGIBLE WORLD By its TRUTH Cause of KNOWLEDGE And existence of objects of knowledge (Forms) Analogous to (Textbook, P. 69)

  15. Plato’s Cave

  16. Criticisms of Plato

  17. Some objections that were raised in regards to Plato’s theory of reality: • What is the relationship between Forms and objects? • For example, if I invent something is a new form created? • Possible answer: Forms do not come into or out of existence (they are eternal) so when we ‘invent’ something we are merely copying a Form which already existed • But! Plato does not give us a clear explanation. • Do we really need something like the forms to explain how we recognize a chair as a chair? • For example, we are taught what is and isn’t a chair; different cultures have different understandings of what different things are. • Isn’t there a simpler way to explain how we can know the essence of an object? • Ockham’s Razor (p.77): “Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity” Criticisms of Plato

  18. The ‘Third-Man- Argument Aristotle raises the follow problem: Criticisms of Plato To explain the similarities between Person 1 and 2 we need a third person

  19. The ‘Third-Man- Argument Aristotle raises the follow problem: Criticisms of Plato But to explain the relationship between these three we need a fourth... ... And fifth And so on...

  20. Aristotle further criticizes Plato on the following grounds: It is unclear in Plato’s theory of reality how the world of BEING relates to and influences the world of BECOMING The Problem of Separation Transcendent world of BEING Form (Idea) chairs Chorismos (Separation) Space-Time world of BECOMING

  21. Alternatives to Plato

  22. Alternative 1: Realism “The doctrine that Forms, or essences, possess objective reality” (p.79) Essentially follows Plato’s premise that there must be something like the Forms but modifies or improves upon Plato’s theory of reality. Positive features: Negative features: Adherents: Plato Aristotle St Augustine St. Thomas Aquinas Realism

  23. Alternative 2: Nominalism “The doctrine that Forms, or Universals, are merely universal names by which we group together things that possess similar features” (p.79) Maintains that Forms and essences (universals) do not have any independent existences. They are just words we use to group things together with similar features. Positive Features: Negative Features: Adherents: William of Ockham W.V.O. Quine Realism

  24. Alternative 3: Conceptualism “The doctrine that universals are material constructs, and as such really exist in the mind” (p.79) Accepts the existence of Universals, essences, etc. but they do not exist independently or transcendentally; they exist in the mind. Hence we can talk and have knowledge about reality. Positive Features: Negative Features: Realism

  25. Summary

  26. Summary of Plato’s Theory of Reality • Reality is composed of two distinct worlds: • The world of Being • The world of Becoming • Objects in each world have radically different properties. • Forms in the world of Being impart essence (Whatness) onto objects in the world of Becoming • Plato divides between Higher Forms (things without physical manifestation) and Lower Forms (things that manifest physically) • Plato further clarifies his theory of reality using the ‘Divided Line’ analogy. • The ultimate form and the source of all existence and knowledge is the form of the ‘Good’ • Plato uses the ‘Analogy of the Cave’ to further illustrate the Form of the Good Plato’s Theory of Forms