The Interrelation Between The Form Theory by Plato and The Immortal Soul Concept

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About this sample


Words: 1046 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1046|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

The Theory of Forms and the Immortal Soul

The idea of the immortality of the soul in relation to Plato’s theory of forms is akin to the idea of a base and a column. Plato builds upon the theory of forms and the idea of the immortality of the soul is built upon that base. To understand how and why these two ideas connect one must be familiar with both. Let us start with the theory of forms.

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To best understand the theory of forms one must consider the terms under which the theory was created. The theory of forms was a direct challenge to pre-socratic philosophers. Prior to Socrates and the theory of forms, many philosophers supported the notion of a constantly changing world. Socrates argued that a world always changing was unreliable, out of perceived need arose the theory of forms. Unlike pre-socratic philosophy, the theory of forms seeks to prove that there are parts of the world that remain constant. The theory of forms interprets the world in two different ways, first there is the visible world. The visible world is simply what we interpret with our senses. Second, is the invisible world, the intelligible world is a world of “forms”. The intelligible world is best thought of as an abstract concept. Forms are merely “ideas” of objects in the visible world. These ideas are far greater than any one person can comprehend, on the whole they are considered to be the greatest, most perfect representation of the object possible. Forms are universal, but forms can only exist in the intelligible world. Once you visualize the form it is no longer form and enters the visible world. Another important consideration of the theory of forms is that which is visible changes often, but that which is intelligible never changes. Forms make our world constant and they allow us to make sense of our world. It is only through the forms that we may come to know. Next we must understand the idea of the immortal soul.

In Phaedo, Socrates argues that knowledge is simply a recollection of what one already knows. As Socrates questions Simmias the reader is brought to the same conclusion of knowledge. As Socrates argues through our understanding of the forms we must understand that there is a form of absolute equality. Furthermore, Socrates argues, through our understanding of absolute equality we know that we can only interpret that form through our senses. Socrates then illustrates that through our understanding of absolute inequality and the use of our senses we are able to understand that our interpretations fall short of the form. That is to say, that our interpretation of a form and the true form will never be equals. Simmias concludes from Socrates’ questioning that Socrates must be right since no other answer is logical. Socrates then goes on to argue that since we are born with our senses, that we must have acquired an understanding of absolute inequality before birth. Socrates argues that it would logically follow that the soul is immortal, since not only are we born with our senses but also the ability to reason. Socrates describes knowledge as recollection, he argues that anything we “learn” is merely being recalled from what the soul already knows.

The idea of knowledge being recollection is the most important piece of the immortal soul and how it relates the theory of forms. If the soul is immortal, then the soul is constant just as the forms are constant. Without the soul, we would have no knowledge of the forms. Through Plato and Socrates’ reasoning, the soul is the only thing that gives us knowledge. The body is merely a vessel for the soul, and can at times interfere with our ability to reason. Socrates even says in Phaedo that a, “real philosopher has reason to be of good cheer when he is about to die”. The body, in Socrates’ eyes, is a detriment more than anything.

Plato also takes an allegorical approach in describing the theory of forms in his “Allegory of the cave”. In this allegory Plato describes the plight of a man who has only ever known captivity. Chained and forced to look at shadows upon a wall, the shadows are that man’s reality. The man is freed and looks upon the puppets which had cast the shadows upon the wall, the puppets in this case represent the forms. The man continues on to exit the cave and reaches the outside world where he is blinded by the sunlight. Plato introduces the sun as a metaphor for the idea of the “good”. The good is the form of all forms, it is something all philosophers seek to attain. In essence, the good is all knowledge.

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The idea of the immortal soul is an interesting interpretation of how we come to knowledge. How convincing of an argument it becomes, however, is debatable. I believe that Socrates did a great job explaining concepts that people of his era could not comprehend. That being said I think that the soul for me is closer to a metaphor for the mind. I do not believe in the immortal soul, but I do concede that we are all born with the ability to reason. Modern thinking makes it extremely difficult to suspend disbelief, I personally cannot accept the idea of the soul as a separate entity from the body. If the soul is separate from the body, then where is our identity and what becomes our cause? Socrates believes that upon death one will be closer to the good, but is that so? If the soul is separate from the body, then is the soul not a distinct identity? If the soul is a distinct identity, then how can we possibly be connected to it? If we have no connection to the soul, then death would surely mean the end of our identity. Death then would not be favorable, and one should seek to attain as much knowledge as they can while they are able to use the soul and while their body (identity) exists. It is in these matters that I believe Socrates fails to make a convincing argument for the immortality of the soul.

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The Interrelation Between The Form Theory By Plato And The Immortal Soul Concept. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
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