Aristotle’s Criticism On Plato’s Theory Of Forms

Introduction and overview

Humans are curious by nature. They have sought to explore the reality of their creation. All religious doctrines, philosophical and scientific theories are the result of curiosity about the man. Journey to investigate the reality is quite old, but has remained as the history of Greek civilization; it seems that the starting point. The Greek philosophers, long before the birth of Socrates, had tried to explore reality. They tried to understand the real behavior of the universe. They used the sensual and mental faculties, but some of the behaviors exceeded the capacity of their senses.

The most important of these questions was that of permanence and change. It was amazing how their minds by the word permanent and changing?

Why the word perceived by the senses seems to be changing and the word perceived by the mind seems to be permanent. That is real and what is appear in both directions? (1)

These issues have attracted the attention of all the pre-Socratic philosophers, but they could not give a satisfactory answer. For example, Parmenides believed that everything was forever, and the change was only an illusion. Heraclitus, on the other hand took the view that everything is in constant flux. (2)

These questions confuse the sense of Plato, too, and so these questions and the answers were unsatisfactory reason, the Platonic theory of forms. Gale says the morphology as a fine was the first logical and sensible answer to the questions and the stability of change. (3)

To answer these questions and develop a system for understanding reality, Plato divides existence into two realms: the realm of the material and the transcendent realm of forms.

Divided into two kingdoms solved the problem of permanence and change. We see a different world with different objects with the mind what we do through the senses. The material world perceived by the senses that are changing. That is the realm of forms perceived by the mind is permanent and unchanging. This is the real world; change the world is but an imperfect image of this world.

  1. Plato: An Introduction by Paul Friedlander, p. 127
  2.  The Cambridge companion to early Greek philosophy A.A. Long, p. 88
  3.  In Ideas: Aristotle’s criticism of the theory of Plato’s ideas by Gail Fine, p. 29

In the view of Gale’s Platonic forms were:

1. Transcendent – the forms are not located in space and time. For example, there is no specific place or time where forms such as redness exist.

2. Pure – the forms only exemplify one property. Material objects are impure; they combine a number of properties such as darkness, roundness and hardness in a single object. One way, as the circularity, is an example of a single property.

3. Archetypes – the forms are archetypes, so they are perfect examples of goods that are examples. The modules are perfect models, in which all material objects based. The form of redness, for example, is red, and all the red objects are simply incomplete, copies of the unclean in perfect shape, and redness.

4. Finally, Real – are the ultimate forms of real community, not material objects? All material objects are copies or images of some series of forms, their reality becomes only the forms.

5. Causes – The tables are the causes of all things. (1) They provide an explanation of why things are as it is and (2) they are the source or origin of those things.

6. Systematically Interconnected – Forms includes a system that leads down to the form of more general successes of joint over more objectives over subjective. This systematic structure reflected in the structure of the dialectical process by which we come to the knowledge of forms. (4)



Aristotle believed that Plato’s theory of forms with its two separate worlds, failed to explain what it was supposed to explain. In other words, he failed to explain how could be sustained and the order in this world and how we can have objective knowledge of this world. By separating the rich forms of the material world, Plato makes it impossible to explain how rich mussels objectivity and permanence possible in the material world. Objectivity and permanence of the realm of the forms do not explain the material world, because the connection between the two worlds is so difficult to understand. Aristotle and the Aristotelian philosophers used logic to criticize the theory. Gail fine went to the extreme to say:

The theory of a proposal form is unnecessary. There is no reason to divide the world into two different worlds to explain the objectivity and continuity of our experience. (6)

Aristotle developed the general critique of the other two specific objections:

1. The obscurity of the notion imitation:

According to Plato, the material objects involved to imitate the forms. It is a virtue in this regard; the realm of forms, material objects and the order is palpable. However, Aristotle says, is almost impossible to explain what his role is, or is an imitation. Properties, the shapes are (eternal, immutable, transcendent, etc.) are all-incompatible with material objects. For example how a white object can be said, or to participate to the copy in the form of candor? Is the form of whiteness white itself? How can there be without a candor, which is white? What is a white object said to be a form of candor in common? It seems that the metaphor of imitation or participation in these cases seems to break down, because the special features that Plato in this form. The only connection between the kingdom and the forms of the material world then disintegrates. Forms cannot explain any of the material worlds.

2. The third man argument:

Plato himself in his later dialogues first gave this argument. It linked to the first objection, but it is a more technical to climb the biggest problem with the theory of forms. The similarity between two material objects can be explained by Plato in the form of their joint participation in a common form. A red book and a red flower, for example, are similar in effect to be copies of the form of redness. Because they are copies of this form, they also resemble the shape. However, the similarity between the red object and the form of flushing must also explained using a different form. What shape are a red object and the form of redness in both copies to account for their similarity? When someone proposes a modified form in two copies of such things, we can always ask them to explain the similarity of form and objects. It will always need a different form.

The concept of imitation or copy of the formal teaching then runs into logical difficulties. Morphology really nothing to explain the similarity between objects in a different form every time you need more than the suggested one. Explains the similarity between the human and the shape of a man, is a third very to a man, and this always requires a different format. Explanation for the similarity of the original is never given; it postponed to the next level.

This criticism opens the door to new criticism. As there was no logical connection between the transcendent form and the material world, so many critics raised a question concerning the epistemological dimensions of this theory. Plato believed that true knowledge is knowledge of the shape and destiny of a great man to reach the realm of forms. However, it is not mention of how to reach this kingdom. Since it was above this material world, so if there was a way to get to this realm of life or death could lead to a man in this ideal kingdom. The idea was very abstract, and it was not clear enough too accepted, un-criticized.

Plato did not write most of his subjects, portraits, and most of the written work not maintained. Pheodo was the first book on this theory, and then the Republic, has explained a little ‘. However, this explanation was too little, so the theory clears. Thus, the explanation was that in theory carried out by commentators. This has become a major source of criticism of this theory. The criticism of Aristotle, and Aristotle, philosophers, according to this theory, are the most explanatory. Plato had written more, or of his books kept, there may have been that strong criticism of this theory. Even then, the theory was powerful enough to share the philosophy and philosophers into two parts. However, a group of philosophers does not agree with the content of the theory but even they accept that this theory provided human beings with s new way to think and perceive the universe.

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