• OK, it's on.
  • Please note that many, many Email Addresses used for spam, are not accepted at registration. Select a respectable Free email.

Realism, does Plato's Forms exist?

onesteptwostep

Think.. Be... ..buzz buzz :)
Local time
Today, 18:57
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
2,895
#1
For those who are unfamiliar with Plato's Theory of Forms, Plato basically thought that there was a realm somewhere where the perfect idea or thing of an idea that existed somewhere.

What I mean by that is this: let's say there was a chair. What makes a chair a chair? We're here reading the word chair as different users, but our conception of what that chair is might be different. Is it four legged? Is it made of metals or wood? Does it have a back recliner or is it an office chair with wheels on it? Is something which you sit on considered a chair? Then how about a piece of lumber or a piece of rock? Do they qualify as chairs, since they are something which you are able to sit on? If it has to have a plank with legs on it, what is the perfect or ideal or 'true' chair? What is the perfect chair?

Plato basically thought that there was a realm somewhere this 'perfect chair' existed. So this obviously doesn't mean just for chairs as well but as for other objects and things, like humans for example. What is the perfect human? What is the perfect computer? What is the perfect government, and so on.

My question is, if realism is true, then what of ideologies? Does a perfect form of feminism exist? Of democracy? Of communism? How about religion, if realism is true, can a true religion exist?

If you have questions feel free to ask. I'll also put down some videos if you're still confused on what Plato's Forms are:

 

Cognisant

Condescending Bastard
Local time
Yesterday, 22:57
Joined
Dec 12, 2009
Messages
7,915
#2
You seem to be missing that Plato's forms aren't actual physical things that exist somewhere, they're a kind of thought experiment that challenges someone to find flaws in something not by examining the thing itself but rather comparing it to an idealized version of itself and seeing where it falls short.

My question is, if realism is true, then what of ideologies? Does a perfect form of feminism exist? Of democracy? Of communism? How about religion, if realism is true, can a true religion exist?
Rather could an ideal ideology exist, if so what would it be like (why is it ideal) likewise if not why is it an impossible ideal?
 

Rook

Verily.
Local time
Today, 11:57
Joined
Aug 14, 2013
Messages
1,854
#3
Cog makes much sense on this one. A way of thinking rather than a way of knowing.

You can have an average appromixation, such what do most humans think of as chair or communism or tortilla, but to have perfected forms one needs an overworld, a dimension where perfection is immutable. What then is the perfect chair?

In a million years, what will be our conception of 'chair'?

Will it float, will it talk or walk or give you nutrients through digestive implants? How then does one at this time define an idealized thing that exists through all time?

One needs to be a deity.
 

onesteptwostep

Think.. Be... ..buzz buzz :)
Local time
Today, 18:57
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
2,895
#4
In some sense Plato's Forms are a qusai-deity. I'm not too read on Greek mythology, but I'm suspecting that the Greek deities were 'Form-ized' ideals of notions such as war, beauty, justice, and so on. Ares, Aphrodite, Zeus, etc. Could be completely wrong, (probably am since the Olympian deities were much ahead, before Plato was born)
 

higs

Perpetually freaked out
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,814
Location
Armchair
#5
You seem to be missing that Plato's forms aren't actual physical things that exist somewhere, they're a kind of thought experiment that challenges someone to find flaws in something not by examining the thing itself but rather comparing it to an idealized version of itself and seeing where it falls short.
Oh cog, I'm sorry that this clashes with your hardcore materialism, but he definitely thinks the forms have ontological reality. He actually says the forms are MORE real because they are more constant, the material world is the cave with the shadows on the walls remember, people ? Plato is quite woo woo XD, you know the doctrine of reminiscence ? Our souls leave our bodies then go into the other realm and contemplate the forms for a while before returning to our fallen state, this is why for him we have understanding of abstract things like 'justice' and 'beauty' and can recognize it in the world, even if things are never perfectly just or perfectly beautiful. We also never learn anything but only remember things we had forgotten.

Still I can see the value in seeing it as a thought experiment, just, he defs didn't intend it that way.

Honestly Plato is very strange, he's a bit like some kind of weird early idealist that didn't quite manage to make his intuitons explicit so his knowledge system turns into fantasies and allegories and it just gets weirder and weirder. He's a lovely thinker though imo.
 

The Grey Man

Active Member
Local time
Today, 04:57
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
461
Location
Canada
#6
When I say "chair", I refer to both chairs in general and particular chairs. The general form of a chair—its idea—can be made of metal and wood and rock, have this shape and that, but a particular chair can only be made one way. This expresses my idea of Platonic ideas. It seems to me unnecessary to quibble over whether each particular chair is somehow "more existent"(?) than chairs in general or the reverse is true. I suppose it's fashionable for philosophers to ignore Kant these days (even though his work is more relevant than ever given the recent shift of the center of gravity of both speculative philosophy and physical science toward the mind/brain), but he argued that 'existence' is a term with no referent and I agree with him.
 

higs

Perpetually freaked out
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,814
Location
Armchair
#7
I don't personally think it's fashionable for philosophers at all to ignore Kant, many still reference him, he is a bit out of date though, as in, he's been built on, not discarded! It's just me who hasn't spent much time looking at Critique of pure reason. I took great interest in his ethics though, he's everywhere to be honest, no one says he's not one of the most major thinkers of all time dw.

but he argued that 'existence' is a term with no referent and I agree with him.
Oh yeah ? Kant didn't exist anyway :p

In all seriousness I'm not sure how you're using 'referent' here or if you mean "predicate" or if you mean "signifies" or "denotes" or whatever but it's certainly not entirely meaningless to me to say "X exists" or "unicorns do not exist" if that's what you're getting at. It appears to add information of some kind no ? All I'm saying is you can say that Plato is right or wrong when he says "There exists a thing such as world of forms where the soul goes when u die". Maybe I'm not getting you (and Kant, once again.)
 

The Grey Man

Active Member
Local time
Today, 04:57
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
461
Location
Canada
#8
I don't personally think it's fashionable for philosophers at all to ignore Kant, many still reference him, he is a bit out of date though, as in, he's been built on, not discarded! It's just me who hasn't spent much time looking at Critique of pure reason. I took great interest in his ethics though, he's everywhere to be honest, no one says he's not one of the most major thinkers of all time dw.
You're right, he's been built on. It's just irritating that many of the people who are supposed to be continuing his work don't make much of an effort to honour that continuity. Most seem content to abandon his framework instead of revising and improving it.

Oh yeah ? Kant didn't exist anyway :p
Lol!

I'm not advocating the extirpation of the word 'be' from all languages—it has far too much syntactic utility for that. All I'm saying is that to say 'Kant existed' is to say practically nothing, whereas to say that he lived and worked in Königsberg in the 18th century, for example, is to say something.
 

Rook

Verily.
Local time
Today, 11:57
Joined
Aug 14, 2013
Messages
1,854
#9
I never read any Kant. But I found out (true?) that he never in his life left one area. So is his philosopby then confined to one geo place and one time era, or is Kant relevant for all ages and geoplaces? Do tell me.
 

The Grey Man

Active Member
Local time
Today, 04:57
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
461
Location
Canada
#10
Kant spent his entire life in East Prussia, it is true, but this perverse idea that his philosophy is somehow less relevant than others' merely because he didn't travel was originated by crows who would peck at eagles.
 

Rook

Verily.
Local time
Today, 11:57
Joined
Aug 14, 2013
Messages
1,854
#11
Hmmm. I am a maggot man myself, along with the macrobacteria that feed upon flies. As I have not read Kant I give no congruent rebuttal, only this: relativistick philosophy. If a caveman bashes another caveman with a rock to gain a woman, or a spacelord nukes a planet to gain five solar systems, what use is philosophy to animal man?
 

higs

Perpetually freaked out
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,814
Location
Armchair
#12
@Rook Well hopefully to think for a second about whether or not he should bash on the head or nuke the planet XD XD XD

Still got a little something it's saying though even if very tiny no ?

CAN I JUST ADD also that crows are smart and eagles are dumbasses :p

Konrad Lorenz said that they were essentially "glamorous turkeys".
 

The Grey Man

Active Member
Local time
Today, 04:57
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
461
Location
Canada
#13
Still got a little something it's saying though even if very tiny no ?
I don't think so. What if I claimed that unicorns existed? How would I go about proving that claim? Probably by going to some place in the universe and finding one that anyone can see. So the existence of a thing seems to be tied to our consciousness of it in relation to everything else in the world such that the former is indistinguishable from the latter. Why, then, should we speak of the mere existence of a thing when we can speak of its connections to the rest of the world, of where it lives, where it works, and so on?
 

higs

Perpetually freaked out
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
1,814
Location
Armchair
#14
I feel like I'm missing something here, or not understanding.

If you said that unicorns existed that would be a very extraordinary claim about the world and I would be fascinated ! Also yes, I would definitely ask you to tell me where to go to see them for myself, as your claim would go against mine and most people's world model theory and beliefs, the onus would definitely be on you to prove their existence. Your claim that unicorns existed would definitely not be meaningless to me. Furthermore, the unicorn in question could exist in a variety of ways, I could say that unicorns exist in the sense that they exist as ideas and images. If someone meant that they existed in a non-fictional way, well that would require me to revise much of my knowledge about the world! Some potentially metaphysically possible things will presumable never exist at all, such as someone named Jegirle Xanfor born in march 2020 in New Jersey. Some things are metaphysically impossible and the meaning of them being such is that they will never and have never existed.

If the basis for truth is to say that that which is, really is and that which isn't, really isn't, then the term "existence" or "being" seems to me to be very meaningful and non-trivial.

So I think asking whether or not platonic forms exist and in what sense they exist is at the very least a meaningful question, whatever the answer is.

@onesteptwostep just to keep this back on track, I think the only serious neo-platonists nowadays are mathematician, pertaining to the debate about whether or not numbers exist. I'd have to read up about it again.
 

The Grey Man

Active Member
Local time
Today, 04:57
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
461
Location
Canada
#15
Exactly! The unicorn exists as an idea, an image, a fiction if nothing else. In what sense things exist is an infinitely more meaningful question than whether or not they exist.
 

kantor1003

Prolific Member
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
1,576
Location
Norway
#16
(I’m obviously not an expert, so take my view with a grain of salt.) Probably worth mentioning again that Platos theory of forms has to do with beauty, truth, and justice (Platos trinity), and also love (a moral universe if you will), but not all that much, I think, with physical objects like chairs. (If you disagree, perhaps refer me to a dialogue of his where he discusses a chair, or anything of the sort). With that said, physical objects partake, though imperfectly, in beauty, because they are emitted from perfect form/s as shadows from light.

Alas, such a shame that we are born so as to forget the good, from which derives everything there is to know! We drank from the river Lethe, some of us more than others, and we forgot it all. But if Lethe dried up, there would be no bliss in paradise. After all, perhaps some of you know that at the top of purgatory, in the earthly paradise, Dante is given to drink from that delicious water which makes us forget all our past sins. O blissful, happy state!

XD, anyway. With chairs we get a problem if we picture forms as some kind of image, which in a sense I think it is (that’s why it probably doesn’t work all that well with things that change over time, like some/most/all(?) physical objects, ie. the shape of chairs). But if we look at the form, as a definition, or as a thing performing a certain function, it would probably eliminate most of the variance mentioned.

So, in the case of chairs, perhaps substitute some kind of theory of forms with functionalism and there you go!

Edit: Read the end of symposium, Diotima's speech which traces beauty up to it's source. The ladder of love is sort of like a ladder of being, and it is there, as far as language allows, perfectly (though I wouldn't know) described.
 

Artsu Tharaz

Resident Resident
Local time
Today, 20:57
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
2,934
#17
Do Platonic forms resemble Jungian archetypes?

Are they each manifestations of the same basic idea?
 

kantor1003

Prolific Member
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
1,576
Location
Norway
#18
Interesting question. Do you know anyone that have explored it?
Perhaps there are phenomenological (experiential) similarities?

Two observations that might or might not be correct. The archetypes, if they are found deep within the unconscious, seems at first to have no being outside our psyches (my guess though, would be that this is not quite correct). If this is true, then that would be one difference between them, that the good would exist whether or whether not we were here while the archetypes would perhaps not.

Another difference might be that the archetypes aren't reducible to one another, while in plato, as later platonic and christian interpretations seems to agree with, every form is reducible to the form of the good. But if Jung believed in God, which he did, then in some sense the arhcetypes might not, in some fundamental sense, be multiple(?).

Does anyone know anything about this, or want to give it a go?

Some things I'm curious of which is essential to answering such questions as you posed. What is an archetype? Can it be a series of mental images telling us a patterned story repeating itself through time, through all ages? Is it something more? Is it found in parts of every dream, or only in some dreams? Is it found in the whole dream, or just in the parts (if we can speak of parts) that admits universality?

Part of the difficulty, I'd imagine, for someone who has read a lot of Jung and Plato (anyone?), is that the archetypes obviously belongs to a wholly different discourse. One, it seems, full of stories, images and strange dreams (that can also intersect with history) taking place within man. Plato seems far less worldly in that sense. For one, I just looked up that Plato has Socrates discuss dreams alongside diseases like insanity, as instances of defects in perception concluding that 'knowledge cannot be defined in terms of perception'(stanford). (Now, isn't that interesting, if truth is nowhere in perception (if I interpret this correctly), then were could it be, and how could we get access to it? How could for instance the 'divine darkness' of the neoplatonist and later christian theologian Dionysius be experienced/'experienced' at all?)
Perhaps, therefore, dreams as a potential source of truth, as it seems to be in Jung, is a newer idea? That it, in schools that followed plato, was considered just as mistaken or more to look for truth in dreams as it was to look for it out there in the sense-world?

I, for one, believe in dreams and what they have to tell me. I also believe in experience and what it has to tell me. I believe that all experience, dreams and otherwise, can be interpreted similarly to the four categories of interpretation medieval thinkers used in interpreting text (and have especially felt/sensed/seen/intuited the moral aspect which can sometimes frighten me). This shouldn't really run all that counter to plato as, after all, experiences of objects and objects encountered in dreams are both impressions that to different extents have their source in ultimate being.
 
Local time
Today, 20:57
Joined
Jun 10, 2012
Messages
6,813
Location
38S 145E
#19
having brushed up on my plato, i don't think plato's forms were thought experiments

considering moving him down to rank 7 in my greek philosopher tier list. he's even more woowoo than i thought
 

kantor1003

Prolific Member
Local time
Today, 09:57
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
1,576
Location
Norway
#20
Sorry about this, but if Plato is known for his allegory of the cave, and his allegory of the divided line, how could anyone take them to be nothing but idle thought experiments? You only have to look up the word 'allegory'. To make it painfully clear, he used allegories because that was the only way for him to approximate, in language, his vision of truth.
 
Top Bottom