Plato's Theory of Forms

Savvas Jack Eliades, Fordham University


This dissertation systematically examines Plato's Theory of Forms from different perspectives. It classifies the dialogue into three different chronological groups, and by focusing on a number of dialogues in each group it purports to show that there is a unity in Plato's thought concerning the Forms which runs like a chain through all of them from start to finish. Certain commentators favor the theme that Plato's thought development followed a gappy pattern. On this account, nuclei of thought which were considered by Plato essential at an earlier period, and therefore became the focal points of his attention, were later dropped and replaced by other irreconcilable ones. This I am rejecting. In this connection Ryle et alii have advanced the view that the Parmenides constitutes a rejection of the Theory of Forms, which, according to them, was found in this dialogue inadequate to ground the stability and cogency of human thought. This dissertation attempts to show that the Parmenides not only does not retract what was said earlier in reference to the Forms, but also makes more profound sense if it is seen as a link which ties together what was said in earlier dialogues and what was said in later ones. Additionally, the nature of the soul is examined, and the relationship of the soul with God and the Forms is explored. The Theory of Recollection is also expounded and evaluated, and it is suggested that the foregoing theory is more meaningful if it is interpreted as an apt metaphor successfully conveying the notion of the innate awareness of the Forms by the soul. Finally, Plato's God and His relation to the Forms and to the soul are dealt with. Certain crucial issues in the chapter could not be definitely settled because of lack of sufficient textual evidence and disparity of scholarly opinion.

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Recommended Citation

Eliades, Savvas Jack, "Plato's Theory of Forms" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9118836.