Plato's Theory of Forms in Plain Words

by Leroy on March 29th, 2023.

If you can think about it, then it must be true. It is your action on that truth which will defile that truth.

If you can think about it, then you can do it. You can fly in the sky, dive deep in the oceans, and venture beyond into space. We as humans can imagine these things in our mind's eye and through our actions we have created planes, and submarines, and spaceships. When a child thinks of flying, the child thinks of Superman who flies around perfectly with no effort, but in our reality we must live with the imperfect. We can picture the perfect in our minds, but our works attempting those ideals will always be flawed. We cannot fly ourselves, so we wrap ourselves in metal, give ourselves wings, and burn fuel to feel just a glimpse of what the birds feel.

These imperfect creations, like planes for flight, also hold for simple communication as well. I have ideas in my head which are perfect and right, but to communicate them I must put them into English words. There is a level of lossy-compression that must be, for there isn't a perfect language in all of this Universe.

This is what Plato was doing when he had Socrates ask questions about justice. All of us can picture, in our minds, a just act. We can picture bravery and courage and honesty in our minds. We can see the Truth. When we act, we defile that truth. It is not our intention, but we do it because that is the human condition. We cannot know the result of our actions, so if our intention is True, then we will be true.

But the same also holds for the unjust. We can picture dishonesty and cowardice and therefore can summon those evil acts. Why not act on the good?

We have the ability to act in this world of ours. We can picture good and evil and know them very well, because we see them perfectly. We cannot do the perfect good or the perfect evil, but if we can do good at all, why not do good?