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Unformatted text preview: Criticism of Theory of Forms a. A review of the essential points of the middle period Theory of Forms B. A “Two-Worlds” theory C. A Form is a “one-over-many”: There’s a Form whenever two or more things have something in common. Cf. Rep . 596a: We are in the habit of positing a single Form for each plurality of things to which we give the same name. D. Forms are paradigms E. Things participate in the Forms by being appropriately related to these paradigms (by resembling them??). F. Participation explains predication (cf. Phaedo 100c): A thing’s being equal consists in, and is explained by, its participating in Equality . In general: x ’s being F is explained by x ’s participating in F- ness. G. A good summary statement is provided at 130e-131a: There are certain forms, whose names these other things have through getting a share of them - as, for instance, they come to be like by getting a share of likeness, large by getting a share of largeness, and just and beautiful by getting a share of justice and beauty. a. The self-criticism of the first part of the Parmenides H. How are these extraordinary criticisms intended to be taken? 1. As fatal objections to the Theory of Forms ? 2. As based on misunderstandings of the Theory of Forms that need to be cleared away? 3. As prima facie problems for the Theory of Forms that demand modifications of the theory? I. My view: Some combination of (2) and (3) is probably closest to the truth. Some of the objections are frivolous, but others are meant to be taken seriously. a. The Setting of the Parmenides J. A discussion involving “the young Socrates” and the two Eleatics, Zeno and his teacher Parmenides. K. The Eleatics argued for monism , the view that reality is one : a permanent and unchanging unity. In their view, pluralism , the view that there are many real things, is false. L. Socrates offers the Theory of Forms as an alternative to Eleatic monism. It is put forward as a variety of pluralism that does not give rise to the absurdities that the Eleatics find in pluralistic theories. M. Parmenides and Zeno’s reply is to attack the Theory of Forms, to show that it leads to puzzling consequences of its own. a. The Objections to the Theory of Forms I. The Extent of the World of Forms What things are there Forms for? 2. Moral and aesthetic ideals: “just, beautiful, good” 3. Natural kinds: “human being” 4. Natural stuffs: “fire, water” [Socrates expresses uncertainty about groups (2) and (3).] 5....
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