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Allegory of the Cave Theory of Forms Plato, Aristotle, Ockham.

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Presentation on theme: "Allegory of the Cave Theory of Forms Plato, Aristotle, Ockham."— Presentation transcript:

1 Allegory of the Cave Theory of Forms Plato, Aristotle, Ockham

2 Which is which? What are they doing with their hands? Where are they? See the full painting herehere

3 500 BC200 BC Greek Philosophers (500BC – 200BC) Timeline The Great Three Plato ( ) Socrates ( ) Plato, 20, meets Socrates, 60

4 What is an allegory? Its a story that teaches you about something other than what is in the story. What is an analogy? A comparison made to show a similarity.

5 Watch this YouTube video of the Cave Allegorythis Read this excerpt from Platos Republic, Book VII, if you prefer reading to watchingthis

6 Platos Cave Allegory has a number of purposes: 1. distinguish appearance from reality it is possible to have the wrong understanding of the things we see, hear, feel, etc. 2. explain enlightenment moving from shadows to the real involves pain, confusion makes you an outcast is a one-way trip improves you, but makes you a nerd makes you mentally clumsy cannot be taught, you must see for yourself

7 Platos Cave Allegory has a number of purposes: 1. distinguish appearance from reality 2. explain enlightenment 3. introduce the Theory of Forms (or Ideas) the allegory provides for an analogy: as shadows are to physical things, physical things are to the Forms (Ideas)

8 In virtue of what are these two things red? Its not the paint, dye, pigment, light waves, frequency of waves, etc., that makes the circle on the left red, that makes the circle on the right red, because all that stuff is over there (on the left) rather than over here (on the right) … similarly, its not the paint, dye, pigment, light waves, frequency of waves, etc., that makes the circle on the right red, that makes the circle on the left red, because all that stuff is over here (on the right), rather than over there (on the left). So, in virtue of what are they both red? Notice that red is a singular term … the subject is plural, but the predicate is singular! These are not reds. How can this be?! How then, can two things be one thing?!

9 In virtue of what are these two things circular? Its not the curve of the border that makes the circle on the left circular that makes the circle on the right circular, because that curve of the border is over there (on the left) rather than over here (on the right) … similarly, its not the curve of the border that makes the circle on the right circular that makes the circle on the left circular because that curve of the border is over here (on the right), rather than over there (on the left). So, in virtue of what are they both circular? Notice that circular is a singular term … these are not circulars! How then, can two things be one thing?!

10 Consider: The 3 angles of any triangle add up to two right angles This is a feature not just of each triangle, but, for Plato, of triangularity. Triangularity, because of that universal trait (a trait had by all triangles), came to be called a Universal.

11 Plato thinks we need universals to account for our knowledge. If, as Heraclitus said, the only thing real is flux or change, then we couldnt know anything (nothing our thoughts were about would match our thoughts, since what underlies our thoughts is always changing). Consider the statement: blue is darker than yellow What would happen if every blue and yellow thing winked out of existence? Would the statement be false? Similarly, when we know The 3 angles of any triangle add up to two right angles there must be something outside of the physical world that makes that statement true, since nothing in the physical world could.

12 Plato believed that these Forms, or Universals, are: Eternal Unchanging Necessary (exist [subsist?] necessarily) If they were not so, blue is darker than yellow and the truths about geometry, and innumerable others, could all be false. But, when you think hard about them, they apparently cannot be false.

13 Qualities colors shapes sounds textures temps flavors odors aspects of all etc. Relations lighter/dark er rounder/squ arer higher/lower rougher/smo other sweeter/sour er etc. Kinds animal vertebrate human metal steel apple book sandwich etc.

14 Where are these Forms? Because everything in space and time comes into being at some time and in some place, and goes out of being at some time and in some place, the Forms, eternal and unchanging, must be outside space and time. Some call this place Platos Heaven Some call the Forms Divine Ideas

15 Problem: How do Platos non-temporal, non-spatial, eternal, unchanging Forms interact with the temporal, spatial, temporary, changing world of our experience? Plato tells us: by a relation of participation or sharing Another way to say it, Forms are instantiated in physical things. This red thing has an instance of redness, this being in between is an instance of inbetweeness, this dog is an instance of dogness. But, how do physical things participate in Forms? Or, how are the Forms instantiated in things?

16 Aristotle rejected Platos Forms as entities that exist separate from the things that instantiate them. He held, instead, that the Forms exist only in re (in things), and not ante rem (before things) and, that we know them by lifting them out of sensible objects by abstraction simple (just noticing a feature of something) common (recognizing two features are one and the same) precise (cutting off reference to all other features) It is the last kind of abstraction Aristotle believes Plato uses, illicitly, to derive his concept of separated Forms

17 There are Forms only for those qualities, relations, and kinds that have existed, exist, or will exist What it means to be a universal is to be predicated of many. His emphasis on language led medieval commentators to follow suit, and seemingly led to both Conceptualism (universals are concepts in the mind), and, Nominalism (universals are a mere puff of voice; universal words)

18 William of Ockham (of Oak Hamlet, Surry, England) rejects both Platos and Aristotles views about Universals. Ockham is a Nominalist (some scholars now think he should be considered a Conceptualist instead). From Paul Spades Stanford article on Ockham:Stanford article He [Ockham] believed in abstractions such as whiteness and humanity, for instance, although he did not believe they were universals. (On the contrary, there are at least as many distinct whitenesses as there are white things.) He certainly believed in immaterial entities such as God and angels. He did not believe in mathematical (quantitative) entities of any kind.

19 Ockham, from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy There is no universal outside the mind really existing in individual substances or in the essences of things…. The reason is that everything that is not many things is necessarily one thing in number and consequently a singular thing. [Opera Philosophica II, pp ]

20 Ockham provides an argument to support his view … from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, again:Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy …it would follow that God would not be able to annihilate one individual substance without destroying the other individuals of the same kind. For, if he were to annihilate one individual, he would destroy the whole that is essentially that individual and, consequently, he would destroy the universal that is in it and in others of the same essence. Other things of the same essence would not remain, for they could not continue to exist without the universal that constitutes a part of them. [Opera Philosophica I, p. 51] Does this argument work equally well against both Platos and Aristotles conceptions of universals?

21 If Ockhams view is best characterized as Resemblance Nominalism, or Resemblance Conceptualism, what arguments weigh against it? Read Rodriguez-Pereyra, if interested. (You are not responsible for anything from this link)Rodriguez-Pereyra

22 Socrates image: Platos and Aristotles images:


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