Plato was born in 427 BC and is regarded as one of the pioneers of philosophy alongside Aristotle and Socrates Plato 1974 Plato was born in an aristocratic family which was heavily influenced in Athenian politics thus a lot of Plato's work is based on political philosophy as can be seen in one of his most famous dialogue The Republic Plato was taught and largely influenced by Socrates which resulted in Socrates mainly featuring as the lead character in many of Plato's dialogues such as The Republic and The Symposium Plato was inspired by Socrates and the execution of Socrates in 399 motivated Plato to find the solution of corruption in society and he arrived at a conclusion that the corruption and all the injustice in society will never be eradicated until philosophers became rulers or rulers philosophers Plato 1974 p 1 Plato s work consists of more than twenty philosophical dialogues and includes variety of different topics Therefore it will be impossible to give an overview of all of Plato's work Consequently this essay will mainly focus on two of his key ideas which includes his theory of Forms and Simile of The Cave One of the most famous work of Plato is on his theory of Forms Plato s theory of Forms makes a distinction between visible and intelligible world Grube 1977 Plato describes visible as the sensible world and he further breaks it down by characterising visible as the images shadow and the object itself
For instance visible world can be understood as the images shadow of a stone and the stone itself On the other hand intelligible world is described as supra sensible world and Plato further breaks it down by characterising it as Forms The term Forms could be better understood as the ideal state or the exemplar For instance Plato believes that The Form of Beauty is perfect beauty the Form of Justice is perfect justice and so forth Brickhouse and Smith This is significant because Plato believed that by identifying forms in this way one can understand the ideal state they should work towards In addition it is crucial that one understands that according to Plato visible world resemble opinions and the intelligible world resembles knowledge Plato emphasised the significance of Forms by claiming that the scope of reality will increase as one shifts from image and shadow to Forms Plato described Forms as ever existing and unchanging Grube 1977 p 30 Subsequently the Form of stone will consist of more reality than the stone itself Plato believed that best knowledge consists of acknowledging the Forms and the best way to apply this knowledge will consist of comparing the characteristics of the visible world with characteristics of the forms This is significant because it helps us recognise and categorise our experience which is crucial as it gives us a better understanding of our life and this coincides with Socrates famous saying that unexamined life is not worth living Furthermore another key contribution of Plato was his Simile of The Cave in his book The Republic This is a very broad section so this essay will give a brief overview of
The Cave Plato describes the setting where group of men have been imprisoned since they were children and their legs and necks being so fastened that they can only look straight Plato 1974 p 256 In the background there is a fire burning and higher up is a road in which people go about their daily routine which results in shadows on the wall which is the only thing prisoners are capable to see Due to their neck being so fastened they cannot even see themselves As a result Plato concludes that prisoners inside the cave got so accustomed of seeing the shadows which were projected on the wall in front of them that it became the only reality they ever knew off Also Plato states that if one prisoner was freed due to him being accustomed to the above setting he will initially suffer not just mentally but physically too and think that what he used to see was far truer Plato 1974 p 257 Plato used this analogy to portrait his belief that most of the humanity is tied up like the prisoners in the analogy above with very limited knowledge and believe that what they experience is the only reality As mentioned in the introduction Plato believes that philosophers should be the rulers and their job is to free the people like one of the prisoner in the cave and help them realise their delusions and acknowledge the real world and Forms
The use of analogy may be criticised as one can claim it has limited persuasive power However supporters of Plato may argue that use of analogy is a very subtle way to portrait his ideas and help a large number of people to understand his ideas in a simple way especially in his time In conclusion the purpose of this essay was to give a brief overview of Plato's key concepts which included Theory of forms and his Simile of The Cave Theory of the Forms is one of key contributions of Plato in philosophy because it helps us understand our life better as it enables us to identify and categorise our experiences and that is vital as by using the theory of Forms we can understand the ideal state and work towards is as mentioned in paragraph two In addition Plato used Simile of The Cave to portrait his one of his underlying message in his book The Republic that there is more to our reality than what we are accustomed to and Philosophers should be the rulers and help the humanity by freeing them from the cave and acknowledge the real world and Forms
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