Saturday, January 26, 2013

Plato's Forms

Plato develops his theory of Forms in order to try and explain how things that we experience are the way they are.

Plato's theory has an extremely wide scope - it is aimed at addressing a number of fundamental metaphysical questions including:
  • how do we explain resemblance?
  • the problem of universals (the question of whether properties exist, and if so, what they are)?
  • what do we mean by matter and substance?
  • what is change?
Plato's answer to these questions is a concept he calls "Forms". Forms transcend experience, are permanent and never changing. It is "from" Forms that the material world is the way it is. Forms therefore help explain the material world. The process by which this takes place is very obscure, necessarily so since the Forms are not objects of experience.
The argument for the existence of Forms seems to be abductive, inference to the best explanation.
The key issue for me in debating Forms is to try and understand what Plato actually thinks they are, this is not an easy question!

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