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Ancient Philosophy

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Plato's Theory of the Forms explains the universe is divided into two parts or realms, the realm of being and the realm of becoming. The realm of becoming consists of our physical world which is temporal, finite, and in a state of constant flux. In the realm of becoming there can be no truth because the world is ever changing. The second realm, the realm of being, is absolute and unchanging which means truth can exist because it is absolute.

The theory states that there are forms, which are concepts or ideas, in the world of being, that we try to represent in our physical world the realm of becoming. These copies are not the form it's self but rather attempts to represent a form only truly present in the realm of being. So according to Plato everything that exists in our physical world, the realm of becoming, is an attempt to represent a form in the realm of being.

Plato's Doctrine of Recollection explains that the realm of being is the collective soul where absolute truth resides and where knowledge of everything is known. The doctrine states that we are born of the collective soul, and return to it when we die. Plato believes when we are born, into the realm of becoming, we break away from the collective soul, where everything is known, and the trauma is so bad that we forget everything we knew. As we develop throughout our life we remember things we once knew, then we die and reenter the realm of being where all is known again.

Plato's theories were influenced by both Heraclitus and Pythagoras. Heraclitus' theories, the theory of constant flux and the unity of opposites, majorly influence Plato's theories. The unity of opposite's theory creates a need for a second realm and in conjunction with the theory of constant flux, which says everything in the world is ever changing; there must be an opposite world where everything is absolute. Pythagoras influenced the idea of the forms by showing that numbers can be represented many ways but because the concept is universal the result is always the same which means the physical representations may look different while the form is one in the same.

Aristotle later developed an altered version of Theory of the Forms which states that there is only one realm where the physical representation and the form exist together. Plato's version, in my opinion, would be comparable to endless reincarnation, whereas Aristotle's suggests a god like figure that everything aspires to be like. I personally think that both Aristotle and Plato's theories are an attempt to explain our existence. Aristotle's version is a little more complicated to understand initially, but in my opinion is a little more believable than Plato's version, which makes life just a long wait for death. Plato believed form existed in space and Aristotle believed it existed within an object, they work the same way but the forms reside in different spaces.



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