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Plato and Aristotle on Form and Substance

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How can you classify forms according to Plato?

According to Plato’s Theory of Forms, the physical world isn’t necessarily the real world, rather reality exists beyond the physical world. There are two realms; the physical realm and the Realm of Forms. The physical realm consists of material things we come into contact with in our daily lives and is changing and far from perfect. On the other hand, the Realm of Forms exists beyond the physical realm. The Theory of Forms declares that the physical realm is only image or copy of the true reality of the Realm of Forms. Forms are abstract, flawless, unchanging concepts or ideals that transcend time and space and they exist within the Realm of Forms. Although the forms are abstract, that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Plato actually thought of them as more real than any individual physical object. For instance, we can see a blue shirt or marker, but we’ve never seen the color blue itself. Blue in and of itself does not actually exist as its own entity in the physical world, even if we all know what blue is. Therefore, blue is an unchanging ideal form, while the blue shirt or marker is individual physical objects that take part in the Form of Blue.

How is appearance connected to reality, yet still different?

Bertrand Russell proclaimed that most of us believe things based on false inferences. He made a differentiation between appearance and reality, arguing that appearance is what we accumulate from our senses. Even though we may be mistaken about our reality due to appearance, our best bet at reality is sense-data. Sense-data are the things that are instantly familiar using sensation. Overall, something may appear a certain way but that doesn’t conclude that it’s real. For instance, Photoshop and other editing apps can be used to alter a certain picture changing the original picture and therefore altering its reality. Hence why the picture appears to be something that it actually isn’t in reality. Additionally, people typically only post the good side of their life. If we were only to see what they post, we would judge their lives as great. However, it might be a different story in reality because barely anyone wants to showcase the bad side of their lives.

How would you explain the form of a substance according to Aristotle and do you agree with it?

The form of a substance is referred to as the essence of a substance. This form or essence is what the substance is commonly known for. Its essence must be what the substance strives for or in other words, its goal or purpose. Aristotle refers to this goal as the characteristic activity of the substance. “Therefore, according to him, every real thing had a purpose.” For instance, some might say that humans” essence is procreating and that is therefore our purpose in this world. However, that might be considered more of the scientific purpose instead of a noble, personal one like make the world a better place.

What is your opinion of Plato’s Theory of Forms?

In this world, relating to Plato on forms being ideals is pretty absurd. For instance, when we refer to something as real, we are acknowledging how imperfect it is or very relatable. In other words, sometimes flaws are more relatable because they make something or someone imperfect. This is because we are imperfect and our lives consist of flaws due to the physical realm. Therefore, that form or ideal is very hard to relate to because it is completely perfect. We all might differently define perfection, but most of us can agree that it isn’t common or a norm. Thus I acknowledge that forms only exist in the world beyond the physical one and that is why it is quite difficult to relate to them. Since the physical world is far from perfect, we must steer away from focusing on ideals. However, our goals must be an ideal or form because even though, you may never achieve it, it will help you complete it to the best of your abilities.

How could you verify you are living life according to virtues based on Aristotle’s view?

In accordance with Aristotle’s views, life should be lived using virtues or traits of character. Virtues are defined in the middle of opposed vices. This may have been because Aristotle considered too much or too little of something a bad thing. Therefore, he established it being right in the middle to be the perfect or adequate amount. He deemed virtues to be things that cannot be learned quickly, but rather things that require constant practice. This was due to the common concept of in order to achieve excellence, you must learn it from a young age or practice uniformly. “An example of a virtue is courage, located between foolhardiness and cowardice.”

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