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    Thread: Platonism

    1. #1
      Xei
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      Platonism

      'No similar threads found'; odd.

      Anyway, I'm reading Plato at the moment. I wondered what people think of the theory of Forms.

      In case you don't know, Plato's theory is that this world is an imperfect illusion, a shadow cast by the light of a greater place: the world of Forms. Forms are perfect objects; they can be mathematical objects such as spheres or fractals, or concepts such as red, and the world they inhabit is spaceless and timeless. When we see a sphere in real life, we do not truly see a sphere: we see an approximation to it (it will have little dents and so on). However, we recognise it as a sphere because it causes us to remember what we experienced in the world of Forms, which we were supposed to develop a kind of amnesia about as children.

      Any thoughts, deep or glancing?

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      hope for a better world

      not that we can know this isn't true, but

      it's just unfounded baseless hope

      this world is as real as it gets bros

      not sure what the implications of this would be, either. it's like saying god and heaven exist but everyone goes to heaven when they die and god doesn't interact with humans in any way at all.

    3. #3
      Xei
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      When Forms are described as perfect, this does not necessarily mean 'good'; it just means 'pure'. There are other Forms too, such as pain and sadness. It's more an ontological theory than anything, and I don't think it was created to give hope.

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      This is Philosopher8659's act. He seems to be knowledgeable about Plato's works. (obsessed) He should be comin' round in 1...2....3.....
      I stomp on your ideas.

    5. #5
      Xei
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      I can virtually guarantee I won't respond.

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      Mm. I've thought about this as well, but keep in mind I have only a vague knowledge of Plato and his forms, so I may have misinterpreted the main arguments. It seems very likely that what we see and what is actually there is not precisely as we see it. After all, we can't even pick up X-rays or Thermal energy with our eyes, it would surprise me at all if things are a little different in there pure, base form than what we perceive them as.

      Regarding there being a perfect form of everything and anything, however, the question arises, "What constitutes as a perfect?" For math or geometry, there are strict definitions for a sphere (i.e. equidistant from an epicenter) but what about "the perfect rock"? Or even better of an example, "The perfect/pure form of a booger?" I can't imagine a perfect booger. Perhaps a perfectly round booger? But then it's also a perfect sphere? Are there overlapping forms? (Edit, or would that be the perfect form of a round booger? lol...this seems pretty vague...I'll have to look into this more )
      Last edited by Alucinor XIII; 12-23-2010 at 01:54 AM.
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    7. #7
      Xei
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      I think the idea is that conjugation is also a Form, so a rock can actually be the image of combined Forms such as solidness and grey.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      It's more an ontological theory than anything
      It is very much an ontological theory, but a theory of metaphysics as well.

      I love Plato and the thought of the forms. Do I think they are real? I have no idea, but the theory does provide some seriously interesting potential implications.

      From where does Justice (for example) originate? Is Justice anything more than a human construct? If it is more than a human construct, and perfect Justice does exist, is it because of the presence of a soul that we are able to recognize it?

      Plato rules, he tackled a lot of stuff that still remains remarkably contemporary.

      What book of his are you reading, Xei?

    9. #9
      Xei
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      I'm off to bed now so I'll continue with that discussion tomorrow, but I'll just say I'm reading The Republic (so I see the pertinence of your questions of justice). The oldest book I've ever read before was probably Pride and Prejudice or something, with the exception of the Bible, a book which seems to have given me the impression that everybody from ancient history was a paranoid scribbling idiot; but, philosophy aside, I'm amazed at how contemporary the speech is. One always pictures ancient figures as stoic, so the presence of such human warmth and sarcasm and wit and intelligence is quite amazing to me.

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      Ive never read anything by Plato so I am not too familiar with the Theory of Forms but I would tend to agree with Nietzsche when he said there is no "thing in itself"(an object independent of our perceptions of it) only appearances. I think quantum psychics has illustrated this point of view with the discovery that observing (or not observing) subatomic particles can change their behavior. I think this suggests that there is no "objective" reality and we, the observers have a profound affect on the way we interpret reality. Also I think most people can agree that Plato was a very big influence on the authors of the Christian Bible, the similarities are kinda out in the open, although all western philosophers are indebted to his thought so I give him a tip of the hat.

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      Xei, I had the impression that you were an empiricist. Are you moving toward rationalism?
      I stomp on your ideas.

    12. #12
      Xei
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      I think it might be possible to reconcile the two. I believe in aspects of both, but yes, I do have elements of radical empiricism, as you saw in a recent conversation.

      I made this thread to see people's opinions in general and get a debate going, but that hasn't really happened yet.

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      Quote Originally Posted by stormcrow View Post
      Ive never read anything by Plato so I am not too familiar with the Theory of Forms but I would tend to agree with Nietzsche when he said there is no "thing in itself"(an object independent of our perceptions of it) only appearances. I think quantum psychics has illustrated this point of view with the discovery that observing (or not observing) subatomic particles can change their behavior. I think this suggests that there is no "objective" reality and we, the observers have a profound affect on the way we interpret reality.
      Correct. I haven't read anything by Plato (yet), but in the OP, i was immediately reminded of both David Bohm's work on the Implicate and Explicate Order theory of the universe and the Holographic Principle (which I'm only slightly versed in), with ties to such "New Age" concepts like the Akashic Records.

      Though I remain skeptical about many "metaphysical" concepts these happen to be the ones that most interest me. Sounds a lot like what Plato might have been talking about, no?
      Last edited by Oneironaut Zero; 12-28-2010 at 07:57 PM.
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    14. #14
      Xei
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      I don't think physical theories like the holographic principle are relevant to philosophy. They're just mathematical constructs.

      With respect to Nietsche, solipsism and quantum physics: in quantum physics, the waveform is an objective thing which exists outside of our consciousness, so that doesn't really make sense.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I don't think physical theories like the holographic principle are relevant to philosophy. They're just mathematical constructs.
      Though Bohm was a quantum physicist, he has also made contributions to the area of philosophy, as his page states.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei
      With respect to Nietsche, solipsism and quantum physics: in quantum physics, the waveform is an objective thing which exists outside of our consciousness, so that doesn't really make sense.
      However quantum physics does raise questions such as whether or or not wave/particle duality and superposition are affected by a conscious observer (or lack thereof), so perhaps they are a little more closely related than you may think? In Bohm's declaration of the implicate/explicate order, there is, essentially, no difference between the (possible) waveform of the collective universe, and our consciousness. They are all - in the implicate order - one and the same.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei
      In case you don't know, Plato's theory is that this world is an imperfect illusion, a shadow cast by the light of a greater place: the world of Forms. Forms are perfect objects; they can be mathematical objects such as spheres or fractals, or concepts such as red, and the world they inhabit is spaceless and timeless.
      This is, practically verbatim, an interpretation of Bohm's Implicate/Explicate Order. Did you read the page on it?

      [Edit]
      I was actually trying to find more of a condensed version of his proposal, but it's something like this:

      The universe exists in two forms: The Implicate Order, which is the collective "everything," which exists outside of space and time (that I believe Plato would call the "World of Forms"), and the "Explicate Order," which is the 'physical' world that we perceive. The latter is a funneled down version of the former, in which we 'individuals' see ourselves and our surroundings as individual. But all of these concepts exists (again, outside of space and time) in the Explicate Order. It is a declaration that there may actually not even be a 'physical' universe, and that what we perceive is a sort of 'rendered' version of the pure, collective, 'data' (the 'World of Forms') that exists outside of space and time.
      Last edited by Oneironaut Zero; 12-28-2010 at 11:55 PM.
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      Xei
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      Thank you for that, it was very interesting. I'll have to read into it because that sounds exactly like an aspect of what I believe, indeed the facet of Platonism I was interested in.

      However, I think Platonism is different, because I don't think the Implicate Order above is a world of Forms; what would you identify with a Form in the above? Plato's idea was more of a separate realm of pure entities, whereas the Implicate Order simply seems like the sum total of all entities.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      However, I think Platonism is different, because I don't think the Implicate Order above is a world of Forms; what would you identify with a Form in the above? Plato's idea was more of a separate realm of pure entities, whereas the Implicate Order simply seems like the sum total of all entities.
      Ah, ok. I'm starting to understand the concept a little more, but I'm still fuzzy. So this 'world of forms' would exist in what kind of 'form,' itself? You said it not only is comprised of things such as spheres and quadrilaterals, but also of concepts such as red. How would these concepts exist, in this 'world?' Would it looks like a color? Or would it be more of an 'idea' of red? (Data, as it were.)

      I believe it is the idea of their being out of space in time that has me thinking that it would be more of the latter. And, if that is true, what would make it any different than the Implicate Order? I would think that, in the Implicate, even though these things are amassed together as a sort of 'web of data,' the concepts are still somewhat individual...if that makes any sense?
      Last edited by Oneironaut Zero; 12-29-2010 at 12:25 AM.
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    18. #18
      Xei
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      I don't think Plato makes clear the exact nature of the world of Forms and the mechanism by which they interact with the world of experience. To elaborate on what he does say, though, Forms aren't thought of as being things of thought; they are thought of as separate, objective entities existing in some kind of timeless, spaceless place. So, we think of the object 'red', and the object 'sphere', and so on. One of the important reasons this construct is invoked is to solve the problem of universals; what is the ontological status of commonalities between things? For example, why do all round objects seem to have a similar quality about them that allows us to name them 'round'? Plato's answer is that before birth our souls were exposed to the World of Forms, but at birth we developed a kind of amnesia about them. When we see a round object, what is actually happening is that this experience is stirring in us a memory of what we saw before birth; namely, the Form 'round'.

      It sounds to me like the Implicate Order does not contain Forms in any sense. It contains all matter in an indistinct mass. In this reality, it seems to me that there would not be such a thing as 'round', there would only be pieces of the reality which, at their spatio temporal location, clump into a roughly round shape.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I think it might be possible to reconcile the two. I believe in aspects of both, but yes, I do have elements of radical empiricism, as you saw in a recent conversation.

      I made this thread to see people's opinions in general and get a debate going, but that hasn't really happened yet.
      Ah, I recommend then, that you look into the works of Immanuel Kant.
      I stomp on your ideas.

    20. #20
      Xei
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      I'm currently reading through a history of philosophy, and from what has been said so far it seems that Kant will be highly relevant to me. I'm on Hume at the moment, who also appeals to me.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I don't think Plato makes clear the exact nature of the world of Forms and the mechanism by which they interact with the world of experience. To elaborate on what he does say, though, Forms aren't thought of as being things of thought; they are thought of as separate, objective entities existing in some kind of timeless, spaceless place. So, we think of the object 'red', and the object 'sphere', and so on. One of the important reasons this construct is invoked is to solve the problem of universals; what is the ontological status of commonalities between things? For example, why do all round objects seem to have a similar quality about them that allows us to name them 'round'? Plato's answer is that before birth our souls were exposed to the World of Forms, but at birth we developed a kind of amnesia about them. When we see a round object, what is actually happening is that this experience is stirring in us a memory of what we saw before birth; namely, the Form 'round'.

      It sounds to me like the Implicate Order does not contain Forms in any sense. It contains all matter in an indistinct mass. In this reality, it seems to me that there would not be such a thing as 'round', there would only be pieces of the reality which, at their spatio temporal location, clump into a roughly round shape.
      Ah. I understand. It's definitely an interesting concept. I have always been interested in philosophy from less of an academic stand-point than just my own, empirical observations - not really due to apathy of the former, but it has just never really been something that I've taken the time to delve into. I've been more on point with a few modern(ish) thinkers (still, as a passing fancy) than many of the top minds of the past, but that's something I would like to change, over time.

      You're right about the Implicate Order, though. It's more of an amalgamation of all there is, in what is most likely a universal waveform. There would be no "form" at all. So I definitely do see the difference. However, I have to wonder how much of it is 'recognition' of these lost forms, and how much of it is just our having 'learned' that "Ball = Sphere."

      I do understand that there is only so much that you can fit into such a conversation, and that I might ultimately have to dive into the subject myself to fully grasp all the details. I understand what you mean about how what we see in real life may be just an approximation of that perfect form, but it leaves me to wonder just how those perfect forms exist in this other world. Are there other objects (balloons, planets, rocks, etc), which take these forms, or do these forms simply "exist," (such as a perfect, yet materially-ambiguous sphere)?

      [Edit:]
      Actually, upon pondering over that last sentence, I finally had the presence of mind to check the wiki on the "Theory of Forms," (trying to keep from burdening you with having to explain the whole thing to me. Lol). I completely understand, now. It is more along the lines of, say, there not being species/types of dogs, as we perceive them, here, but a single, "perfect" Form, which is the totality of the thing known to us as "Dog." It exists as one singular object - ever absolute and unchanging - which represents the perfect state of "Dogness," instead of the imperfect approximations of "Dog" that we see in this realm, which take so many different shapes and sizes.

      Hooray, research. Lol.

      Very interesting, though!
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