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The influence that Plato the Greek philosopher born in 427 BC in Athens has had throughout the history of philosophy has been monumental Among other things Plato is known for his exploration of the fundamental problems of natural science political theory metaphysics theology and theory of knowledge many of his ideas becoming permanent elements in Western thought The basis of Platos philosophy is his theory of Ideas or doctrine of Forms While the notion of Forms is essential to Platos philosophy over years of philosophical study it has been difficult to understand what these Forms are supposed to be and the purpose of their existence When examining Platos forms and evaluating the theory some conclusions have proved to be unclear and unanswered However the doctrine of Forms is essential to Platos philosophyPlato came to his view of the Forms based on two premises first that knowledge cannot come through the senses and second we do nevertheless manage to know things in mathematics for instance Plato believed in two worlds the empirical realm of concrete familiar objects known through sensory experience and the rational realm of perfect and eternal Forms According to Plato the empirical realm is not real as sensory objects are not completely real Beliefs derived from experience of such objects are therefore vague and unreliable whereas principles of mathematics and philosophy discovered by inner rationalistic meditation on the Forms constitute the only real knowledge Such familiar concrete things as trees human bodies and animals which can be known through the senses are merely shadowy imperfect copies of their Forms For every sense object in the empirical world there is a corresponding perfect Form These Forms are nonphysical permanent eternal and invisible How then you may ask can one ever know of the Forms if they cannot be known by sense perception Plato answers this question by stating that the Forms are known in thought They are the objects of thought therefore whenever you
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