Theory of Forms

Read this description of Plato's theory of the forms. What does Plato mean by "forms"?; How does this relate to justice? What does the ideal state have to do with justice?

The theory of Forms or theory of Ideas is a philosophical theory, concept, or world-view, attributed to Plato, that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas. According to this theory, ideas in this sense, often capitalized and translated as "Ideas" or "Forms", are the non-physical essences of all things, of which objects and matter in the physical world are merely imitations. Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters (primarily Socrates) of his dialogues who sometimes suggests that these Forms are the only objects of study that can provide knowledge. The theory itself is contested from within Plato's dialogues, and it is a general point of controversy in philosophy. Nonetheless the theory is considered to be a classical solution to the problem of universals.

The early Greek concept of form precedes attested philosophical usage and is represented by a number of words mainly having to do with vision, sight, and appearance. Plato uses these aspects of sight and appearance from the early Greek concept of the form in his dialogues to explain the Forms and the Good.

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