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Introduction to Plato’s Metaphysics. Plato 428-348 BCE Athens, Greece Student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle. Founded the “Academy.” No fees, but exclusive.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Plato’s Metaphysics. Plato 428-348 BCE Athens, Greece Student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle. Founded the “Academy.” No fees, but exclusive."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Plato’s Metaphysics

2 Plato 428-348 BCE Athens, Greece Student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle. Founded the “Academy.” No fees, but exclusive. No set curriculum, but a method of inquiry. Pose a problem and inquire through dialectic.

3 What’s confusing? Literal summary? Are the shadows the prisoners see “real?” “To them, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.” Wouldn’t the prisoners wonder about the causes of the shadows?

4 “…when any of them of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk an look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains. The glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to him that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to reality and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision…and if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the shadows…? He will need to become accustomed to the sight of the upper world.” (32-33)

5 Why “pain” and “distress”? “Nearer” reality and “more real” as opposed to unqualified “reality” and “real”? Why are the shadows a tempting refuge?

6 The particulars are imperfect copies or expressions of the Forms and are perceptible in the visible world. The Forms exist in the intelligible world (i.e. the non-physical world) and are accessible through pure reason. The Forms are the pure ideas of the things. The Forms can exist without particulars, but the particulars cannot exist without the Forms.

7 Plato’s Metaphysics The nature of reality. Plato’s worldview. Universals vs. Particulars Universals are perfect and emanate from the Good. Particulars are imperfect manifestations of the Universals.

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11 “My view is that in the world of knowledge the idea of the Good appears last of all, and is seen only with great effort; and when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world [the sun], and the immediate source of reason and truth in the higher world [the world of forms]” (34) What is quality of Plato’s Good? How are the visible world and the higher world different?

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13 What does the allegory symbolize and dramatize? The need to question (and the danger of questioning) basic assumptions and common sense. The importance of enlarging and changing one’s perspective—more data related to the shadows will not lead to enlightenment. Education leads to enlightenment. Appearance is not reality. Ultimate reality is nonphysical. Wisdom brings responsibility—one has an ethical obligation to help others out of the dark.

14 It is natural to be compelled to the Good (to reconnect/recollect what we came from)

15 Some Implications Ideas are real—more real than things. Ultimate reality is non-physical. The physical/material world is mere appearance. Wisdom begins when one realizes the world is merely appearance and reality is non- physical. If all things are expressions of the Forms and the Forms emanate from the Good, then we are expressions of the Good. The trauma of birth caused us to forget our relationship with the Good. Pure reason and logic, the tools of ideas, allow access to the Good. To “know thyself” is to know the Good. Knowledge is recollection.

16 According to Plato’s Metaphysics…. What should one strive for? Avoid? What should one worry about? Not sweat? How should one live? What would a Platonic experience of love, work, and art be like? What should be the character of education?


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