Q:

What did Plato believe?

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Quick Answer

Plato believed that the world we see around us is only a shadow of reality, which he referred to as the world of the forms. From this belief, he developed the Parable of the Cave, the philosophical theory for which he is best known, according to a website hosted by St. Anselm College.

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Full Answer

Plato believed that there was a perfected representation of everything in the world of the forms. In Plato's view, the things that people experience in the ordinary world are like shadows reflected on a dark cave wall by flickering flames. Humans are unable to turn and see the reality. Instead, they must deduce reality from the shadows before them. Applied to real life, this means that people must look at many things to get an idea of the Form of something. For instance, there are dozens of different types of shoes. However, they all have certain things in common. The Form of "shoe" would therefore be the perfected example of all shoes.

This perfected shoe is an example of an archetype, or the shape upon which all reflections may be patterned. Plato argued that archetypes are more real than the items that are based on them. He also argued, based on this theory, that there are ultimate truths in the world. For this reason, he clashed with the Sophists, a school of philosophers who used rhetoric to prove that all things are relative to one another and that fixed truths do not exist.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the major contribution of Plato?

    A:

    The Republic, a philosophical work produced in 380 BCE and still discussed in modern curriculum, is one of the more commonly known contributions of Plato. The Republic addresses justice and politics. Another contribution of Plato is The Academy, an institution at which students could study astronomy, biology, mathematics and politics.

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  • Q:

    What is the good life according to Plato?

    A:

    Plato contends that the good life is lived by fulfilling the natural function that all things possess. Plato believed that any object, animal or man has a natural function. Discovering that function is the first step in living the good life, and it is followed by acting on that function.

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  • Q:

    What were Plato's main contributions to philosophy?

    A:

    Plato, the Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, contributed the philosophical idea that reason was necessary for a fair and just society. He felt individuals required equality, which became the basis for modern democratic ideals. He also pontificated on the importance of mathematics in education and art and culture in civilized society.

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  • Q:

    What are the differences between Plato and Aristotle?

    A:

    The primary difference between Plato and Aristotle lies in their beliefs about what was most authentic about existence. Plato believed that ultimate reality is not present in everyday experiences. Aristotle thought that the everyday world is more authentic than Plato's otherworldly set of ideals.

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