Lecture 9_Two Kinds of Metaphysics (Plato and Aristotle)

Lecture 9_Two Kinds of Metaphysics (Plato and Aristotle) -...

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Two Kinds of Metaphysics: Plato and Aristotle 1. Plato a. The Forms Plato was the first great systematic metaphysician. The most important feature of Plato’s philosophy is his theory of Forms. Forms are sometimes referred to as Ideas, but not “ideas” in a person’s mind but rather ideal forms or perfect examples, the perfect circle or perfect beauty. Forms are the ultimate reality, and they are eternal and unchanging, unlike the world of our everyday experience. Plato posits two worlds, the world of being (where the forms are located, which is eternal and unchanging) and the world of becoming (where we live, the world that is always changing). In this way, Plato reconciled the views of Heraclitus (all is in “flux”) and Parmenides (the real world is unchanging and not the world of experience). Our only access to the world of being is through our reason and our capacity for intellectual thought. b. “The Myth of the Cave” The world of Forms is the real world. The world in which we live is less than real because it does not contain eternity and necessity. In “The Myth of the Cave,” Plato describes the theory of the forms. Our world is like a set of shadows of the real world; it is not an illusion, but it is a mere imitation of the bright originals. c. Forms as Definitions One way to think of the Forms is to think of them as definitions. For example, two horses have in common the Form horse, and you recognize them each as a horse because they share the Form of horse. Each individual horse “participates” in the Form of horse. The Form kind of acts like a definition; it allows you to recognize a horse, no matter what its individual characteristics may be. But participation is a notoriously unclear notion, unless it means just “member of
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Lecture 9_Two Kinds of Metaphysics (Plato and Aristotle) -...

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