Philosophy of Religion

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Plato: criticism of his philosophy

There is no doubt that Plato was an original thinker.

Plato’s greatest critic was his pupil Aristotle.

Problem of Forms

  • Concept of Forms is not the only or obvious logical conclusion.
  • Ideals of perfection do not necessarily need any kind of independent existence.
  • What exactly is an ideal? – e.g. an ideal Cat. What colour would an ideal Cat be?
  • It is difficult to imagine an ideal Form of something nasty – e.g. an ideal Disease.
  • It is difficult to imagine the ideal Form of something mundane – e.g. an ideal Train Ticket.

Problem of the Relationship between the Two Realms

  • Plato is not very clear about how the Forms relate to things in the realm of Appearances.
  • How exactly do the many relate to the one? – i.e. is there a Form for every species of animal or is there just one generic animal?
  • If you take Plato to his logical conclusion then you would have to have so many Forms that they would cease to be ‘universals’.

Problem of the Immortality if the Soul

  • Common sense seems to dictate that we have to rely on our five senses.
  • Plato’s concern about politics and ethics do not fit in with his view that the body is an encumbrance.
  • If the body belongs to the realm of appearances then why should Plato concern himself with trying to create an ideal society (with or without his precious Philosopher King)?

Problem of the Form of the Good

  • Plato understands the Form of the Good as being absolute. This raises problems for ethics.
  • If the Form of Good is to be understood absolutely, how are we supposed to know what goodness is?
  • Plato believes that the Form of Good is at the top of a hierarchy, casting light like the sun onto the lower Forms. Everyone might agree that there is only one sun; it is not so easy to agree on what true goodness is.

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