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Discussion About the Usefulness of Plato's Theory of Forms

Updated on December 3, 2010

One of the most known theories in the philosophy of religion is the theory of the forms of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is the “core” of his thinkings and it is the belief that there exist “forms” of everything. According to him we only live in the “shadowlands” which are just copies of the real things that exist in the world of the forms. He describes a “form” as the actual idea of an object. A chair in our world is just an imperfect form of a chair and the “perfect” chair is in the world of forms. The highest of all forms is the form of the good which gives all things its divinity and only because of it everything exists. His analogy of the cave does tell this theory in a metaphorical way. He thought that only true philosophers could get to real knowledge about the teachings of the forms. There are a lot of discussions if this theory has mentionable use.

Arguments Against His Main Theory


A strong argument which agrees with the statement that this theory is of little use is that there is absolutely no evidence for it. Plato based all his thinking only on his own ideas about the world and could never prove anything about it. It this theory shall become a big one which a lot of people are following there should be some evidence that makes people believe to this.

Another argument would be that this view of everything does not actually solve any problems. Beliefs like Christianity give humanity straight rules which they can follow and it gives a lot of examples but the theory of the forms just tries to explain that there are perfect forms of everything which actually makes no difference in everyday life. It has no influence on people and it can not be wide spread because it was a very elitist belief. Plato stated that only true and trained philosophers could see the world of the forms and so it is not available for everybody. For example people find it easy to follow a religion because it provides them with rules and principles that they shall follow. One of the biggest weaknesses in terms of usefulness is that it has still a lot of lacks. Plato himself said that he would not fully understand and also it does not explain of what the real forms are, he mostly talked about the forms of, for example, justice.

Arguments For The Use of His Theories

Of course there are also arguments which provide information about the usefulness of it. It was one of the first big philosophical theories and so it grounded the path for a lot of new theories. Plato was one of the first big thinkers and he examined life. “An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Aristotle. His theory is still taught in all schools because it was just the beginning of philosophy. It might be that his theory a bit out of date but nevertheless it lead to new ideas. Also it might be a reason why people think more about things. It presents us a whole different structure of the universe and so people might be more interested in life which can lead to important new ideas to examine life. For example a student who would never come into contact with Plato’s Theory of the forms might be not so interested in our world and philosophy and so he does not try to find better ways to understand our surroundings. Another strong argument is that it is a good way to explain to people why we maybe shall not listen so much to authorities like politicians because a lot of people will critically think about what they tell us.

In conclusion it can be said that this is worth of being discussed a lot. The reason for this is that this is a topic which has a lot of arguments against and for it. On the one hand Plato’s Theory of the Forms may be not suitable for everyone because it is very elitist but on the other hand it provides us with interesting ideas how the construct of the universe could be.


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      Teto 3 years ago

      唉 我是一名基督教徒 我发现啊 有许多人为了宗教的问题而常常辩论 辩论说到底哪个宗教才是 好 的 哪个才是 真正 的宗教 唉 其实啊 辩论是帮不到他们什么的 因为他们根本就不信 他们只是 argue for the arguement's sake 如果有一天 大吉利市的说一句 他们死了 他们又不能去天堂 也不能去西方极乐 唉

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      Towolawi olorunwapelumi 5 years ago

      The major problem with theory of plato is that,plato stated that everything in this world ours is imperfect,but how can our mind which is an imperfect world recollect things in the perfect world?however,it is impossible for anybody to recollect anything without having the idea of such thing in previous time,on this grounnd,plato is justified.