7 - Platonism and Neoplatonism I Platos Metaphysics A...

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I. Plato’s Metaphysics A. Separationism Two Worlds Prior to Socrates and Plato (in the Presocratic tradition), there were two conceptions of reality: one essentially static (represented by Parmenides) and the other essentially dynamic (represented by Heraclitus). According to the first, reality is one and unchanging. According to the second, reality is changing. Plato's conception of reality distinguishes between the changing world of appearances (the sphere of the spatio-temporal world) and the world of unchanging and eternal reality. The world of appearances is the VISIBLE WORLD of particular things, and it is characterized by mutability (i.e., change). The real world is suprasensible (beyond our senses) and the INTELLIGIBLE world. Plato combines the Heraclitean doctrine of flux and the Parmenidean principle of reality as unchanging to show that there is a distinction between two realms: an intelligible one grasped by the mind (by intuition and reflection) and a sensory one grasped through the senses. The former is unchanging and immaterial; the latter mutable and material. B. Doctrine of the Forms ( Eidos ) According to Plato, the real world is constituted by abstract entities called Forms . First, in the VISIBLE WORLD we find a plurality of substances under the same name (e.g., table, chair, tree, guitar). Each of these substances has a corresponding "nature" or "quality" which is represented in particular instances. Every substance has an essence (its essential properties). According to Plato, what we grasp under a concept of a thing (i.e., its essence) is not merely a subjective concept (an idea in our heads), but an objective essence, something which has existence independent of any particular instance. Such an entity is a Form. And there would appear to be as many Forms as there are natural objects that involve an instantiation of a universal concept. Furthermore, in the VISIBLE WORLD, we make judgements that involve moral and aesthetic universals (so-called abstract ideas), x is good, x is just, x is beautiful. Like natural objects (who essence exists independently of any instantiation in the physical world), so- called properties (like goodness, justice, and beauty) also exist independently of their instantiations in substances. So, actual horse => real horse "x is just" = > real justice Unlike the instantiation of an essence in a particular substance, a FORM is perfect IMMATERIAL ETERNAL (TIMELESS) IMMUTABLE (UNCHANGING) INDEPENDENT OF SENSIBLE PARTICULARS FORMS belong to the INTELLIGIBLE REALM of BEING. They are imperfectly represented in the VISIBLE WORLD of BECOMING.
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This note was uploaded on 11/04/2011 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Delevati during the Fall '08 term at S.F. State.

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7 - Platonism and Neoplatonism I Platos Metaphysics A...

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