On on Parmenides’ account, we, today cannot

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On Plato’s Metaphysics

Plato’s vast contribution in the field of Philosophy is attributed to
three earlier experts (Kraut, 2017) in the field name Heraclitus, Parmenides
and Socrates. Among these contributors, is Socrates, who wrote nothing – can be
read from a number of texts allegedly written by Plato. The former’s teaching
became Plato’s primary evidence for his philosophy.

Parmenides posed that there is only one and could be only one “Being”
and that one cannot even say or thing what it was not. Furthermore, he argued
that change’s appearance is is just that, a deceptive appearance. Reality is
static. Unfortunately, with the little of Plato’s anecdotes on Parmenides’
account, we, today cannot account if he argued that there is just one Being, in
his universe. What is certain is that this account of Parmenides in a way
contributed to Plato’s doctrine of Forms.

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Heraclitus on the other hand advocated the concept of change. For him,
ordinary objects in the physical world continuously change and that the only
constant is the pattern of change itself. This notion of change or “flux” seems
to have contributed to Plato’s thinking regarding ordinary material objects.

Among the three contributors, most scholars in the discipline attribute
Plato’s thinking to Socrates. Despite the historian Xenophone’s account that
Socrates’ work deal mostly with ethics, it has been argued that Socrates himself
cared less about epistemology – and that his teachings reflected that he was
concerned more with caring for the soul so that one may live happily, and that
he used metaphysical or epistemological theories in dealing with his ethical
queries. Since Plato was Socrates’ student, he used the latter as his
mouthpiece and that Socrates appeared in most of Plato’s dialogues, which
included the “Apology”, “Crito”, “Ion”, “Hippias Major”, “Meno”, his most
renowned work, “Republic” and others.

Given this wide array of Plato’s work, scholars and critics of his
writing have divided his work into three main parts – “early”, “middle” and
“late” periods, with the “Republic” belonging to the middle of these periods.
As compared to the other dialogues, the middle period works of Plato showed his
argument, wherein the other period consists mainly of Socratic dialogues, with
Socrates being the “Chief Interlocutor”. It is thus in the middle period works where
Plato’s first thoughts about epistemological
and metaphysical issues can be found – and lead to the scholars
getting a peek on his views about special entities called the “Forms”.

Aristotle, a student of Plato recalled that his teacher noted that
Socrates was the first to seek the universal in ethical matters and claimed
that the latter did not separate the two concepts. However, with Plato marrying
Socrates and Heraclitus created the notion of separated universals, called
“Forms”. Universals, in metaphysics is a technical term which means a
characteristic found in many objects. For example, a pan, a ball and a figure
drawn on the board can all be round. What they share in common is a universal,
which in Plato’s vocabulary, he called the “Form”. With a lot of possible
commonalities, each of these characteristics shared is called a Form.  With Aristotle heading Plato’s scholars, they
have focused on
what these Forms means for Plato, as
to Socrates, to have separated his universals, the Forms. And
thus, the
starting point of Plato’s metaphysics, is the Socratic dialogues and Socrates’
investigation into universals of the ethical variety, namely Justice, Piety,
Courage and others.


On Plato’s Epistemology

Plato, his position in Epistemology concerns primarily on what knowledge is
(Kraut, 2017). He assumed that there is knowledge and dealt with the conditions
that made it possible. Among these conditions include the rational capacities
of human, or the souls and on the other hand the object of knowledge. As to the
object of knowledge, merging his position regarding the Forms, he claimed that
they (the Forms) are objects of knowledge. In the Republic, Plato made mention
of the physical world as an image – an imperfect world of change. This work
suggested great metaphors such as the Sun, Line and the Cave, which implied
Plato’s skepticism about the knowledge concerning the physical and sensible
world. He claimed further that one who knows Forms can also acquire knowledge
of the physical world.

address the issue such as how one obtains knowledge of the physical world,
Plato proposed the “Doctrine of Recollection”, which in essence, Plato claimed
that the souls must have seen the Forms prior to its dealings with the physical
world and thus acquiring knowledge at that point mentioned. Such claim was
grounded on Plato’s position that if Forms do not exist in the physical world,
then we must have acquired it before one commencement of our dealings with the
physical world. However, going back to the metaphysical concept of Forms, its
simplicity would imply that knowledge is intuitive or can be acquired through

the Republic, Plato’s lines consist of pictures. However, to know a Form, one
must be able to give its definition. And thus it suggests that Forms are interconnected
and are related to one another. Plato also tied this view that knowledge
perhaps is a form of justified true belief, or that one obtains a justification
to convert a belief into knowledge. Plato may have discussed only a little on
this matter but he made mention of the method of hypothesis, and that those
which cannot be labeled as hypothetical is suggested by Plato as a part of a
process where one come to know a Form.



The Republic’s central theme is Socrates’ question on
Justice, and the goal of this work, which spanned ten books is to demonstrate
that it is best for one’s life to be devoted in virtue and knowledge and that
the same will result in one’s happiness (Coumoundouros,

The virtuous person,
according to Socrates, is one who possess harmony of the three parts of his
soul – appetite, reason and spirit. He should also be aware of the Form of the
Good and all other Forms to support all these parts. Plato (through the words
of Socrates) posits that an ideal state, the Republic is a reflection of this
balanced tripartite. The Republic showcased three parts of classes namely the
rules, warriors and laborer, under the ruler, which could be driven by any of
the three parts of the soul, i.e. reason. Book IV of the Republic concluded
that a philosopher ruler,or in an individual’s case, reason, would be for the
best benefit of the whole state of person.

In Book V, the defense
as to why the rule of the philosopher is deemed best centered on the
philosopher’s acceptance of Form, such as the Form of Beauty, thus making the
philosopher possess knowledge in contrast with sight lovers who denies the
existence of beauty, he lacks knowledge but only has beliefs. According to this
Book, there are three different kinds of mental states namely Knowledge,
Ignorance and Belief. Knowledge is grounded on “what completely is”, whereas
Ignorance deals with “what exactly is not” and lastly, Belief is the middle
ground between the two other states.


Allegory of the Cave

The end of Book served
as the prelude for the two succeeding chapters’ discussion on the arguments and
analogies of Sun, Line and the Cave (Coumoundouros, n.d.). The allegory of the cave involves three men who
were tied to a cave, who have never seen anything in the world except for what
they perceive in their tied positions. They are tied facing away from the
“fire”, which in reality is the Sun. These men only sees things passing on
their backs as shadows. When one man is freed, he was first blinded by the
light of the “fire” and after some time he got to see the objects which they
previously saw as shadows.  When that man
is returned from the cave, he is disoriented by the blinding darkness of the
cave, then he recounts the things he saw outside the cave. Other prisoners see
this stories as hallucinations a result of the evils encountered by the man as
he was placed out of the cave. The allegory concluded with a realization that
these men who have not seen the outside of the cave will resist the same should
they be placed outside the cave – fearing the “pains” experienced by the
prisoner who was forced out of the cave. Scholar on the subject suggest that
the Cave is a metaphor for the perception of humans of things based on what he
is fed by his “realities”. The cave represents what we see or hear or perceive
from the world. The escape symbolizes the efforts to learn more about our
realities – like testing various hypothesis. And the reaction of other
prisoners, as the rejection of man of these new ideas – which do not form part
of his justified truths.




Idealism in Education

Idealism refers to the
branch of philosophy espoused by Plato, in his well-renowned text the
“Republic”, whose central concept revolves around true reality, which is the
only thing worth knowing. Plato in the Republic made mention of the existence
of two worlds – the spiritual and the physical worlds, the former being the
eternal, permanent, orderly and universal whereas the latter being changing,
imperfect and disorderly.

In education, the idealist perspective aims to
discover and develop one’s realities – abilities and with the further goal of
achieving full moral excellence of the individual for the benefit of society.
Thus, advocates of this perspective set as premium curricular emphasis as the
subject matter of the mind. Teaching methods belonging to this perspective
involves the handling of ideas through lectures, discussion most especially
Socratic dialogue with the method of asking questions to discover and clarify

forms are brought to one’s mind through the use of introspection,
intuition, insight, and whole-part logic. The
use of example and heroes seek to then build one’s character.

Categories: Teaching


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