Classical Western Philosophy Plato-Metaphysics for IAS

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Western Plato- Metaphysics

Complete Video at - Plato - Metaphysics; The Concept of God: Classical Western Philosophy (Philosophy)

Theory of Idea

  • Plato was a realist.
  • Realism is a philosophical thought which believes that universals alone are real, or universals have their own independent existence in the own rights.
  • According to Plato, Ideas/concepts as universals are the real originals which are copied by the percepts.
  • It is important to note that according to Plato, although universals/concepts are copied by the precepts, but the latter can never be the original Idea.
  • Ideas according to Plato are universals, they can only be thought and not sensed.
  • On the other hand, percepts can be sensed but not thought.
  • According to Plato, Ideas or concepts are the original, eternal patterns which are imitated or copied by the individual things or percepts.

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  • In other words, ideas are the patterns which are copied by the things.
  • Plato avers in Phaedo, “Things imitate them and remind us of being similar or dissimilar to ideas but they never can be ideas.”
  • Hence, it can be said that the status of relationship between the original and the copied, or the universals/Ideas and the things is merely metaphorical in nature.
  • As a result, according to Plato, perfect knowledge is found in Ideas or universals (the Ideal realm where God՚s reside or God՚s heaven) and it can never be found in the sensible world of things or the phenomenal world.
  • According to Plato, the ideal realm is the region of reality, it is the region of Being.
  • Whereas, the sensible world is the region of appearances, and it is the region of Becoming.
  • Some of the characteristics of Ideas mentioned by Plato in his works are;
    • Ideas are said to be substances which are in-itself and for-itself. In other words, they are independent and do not require the existence of anything else for their reality.
    • Ideas are invariable and constant in nature.
    • Ideas are the essence of things. In other words, Ideas are real and sensible things are poor imitation of them.
    • Ideas are the causes, in the sense that they attract things towards them. For instance, the idea of Beauty is the cause which results in many beautiful things (which are copied) in the sensible world.
    • Ideas are unmoved in nature but they give rise to many individual things.
    • Ideas are universal. They are absolute.
    • Ideas are eternal. In other words, they are time-less. Ideas pre-exist the creation of the world, the moment at which time was designed by God.
    • Ideas are beyond creation and destruction. In other words, they are immutable or they do not perish.
    • Each idea is one and unique in nature. According to Plato, God has made each idea uniquely. For example, the idea of Good is one and unique but it is imitated by many good things.
    • Ideas form the very standard of Knowledge. According to Plato, Ideas are concepts which give us true knowledge.

The Concept of Soul

  • According to Plato, soul is immortal, it exists before being embodied in the sensible world and also exists after the death of the body.
  • In other words, it undergoes the cycle of rebirths until it purifies itself after which it is eternally released.
  • So, like Socrates, Plato also accepts that learning of Ideas is only a work of recollection (the knowledge is present within, it only needs to be awakened) .
  • Simply put, for Plato, the concept of soul is superior than the concept of bodily existence.
  • He says, the soul remains in bondage or it remains shackled by the bodily senses which attract desires, passions, etc.
  • The release from these shackles for the soul is only possible via the means of proper philosophical knowledge or via meditation on the Idea of Good.
  • According to him, the Idea of Good is the highest of all the other Ideas.
  • The idea of good is non-personal, but it guides all the other ideas towards itself, just like, all bees are attracted towards the flower.
  • Plato also avers that the wicked souls who cultivate gluttony or selfishness will assume the form of donkeys and other animals in their next birth.
  • On the other hand, the wise souls will find release and will dwell in the company of Gods in the ideal realm.
  • It is important to note that when Plato regards soul to be superior than the body, he expounds dualism between the two.
  • In other words, according to him, the soul is something which the body is not, the soul is simple and body, on the other hand is complex as it is made up of four elements, namely; fire, water, air and earth.
  • This results in dualism of soul and body.
  • Also, his views on the concept of soul and body share a similarity with the philosophy of Pythagoras.
  • According to Pythagoras, soul is immortal.
  • He avers, soul is superior than the body and the later is nothing but a tomb of the soul.
  • So, soul is grounded by the body and the visible world or the sensible world is false and illusive in nature.
  • Soul՚s release from the round of endless reincarnations in this false and illusive world is possible only via the means of mystic meditation.
  • Hence, the two philosophies share a number of similarities (the concept of soul, the concept of body, the nature of visible world, etc.) .
  • According to Plato, the embodied soul consists of three parts. The three parts are mentioned in Plato՚s dialogue, Phaedo and Republic. They are;
    • Reason: it is nearer to soul.
    • High spirits: it is an ally of reason. In other words, it solves the conflicts between reason and appetites, and supports reason.
    • Appetites: it is nearer to the body. It is primarily concerned with food, drink and bodily pleasure. They give rise to desires, passions, greed, etc.

The Concept of God

  • According to Plato, God (demiurge) is eternal.
  • Ontologically speaking God can never cease to be.
  • From a moral or an ethical point of view, God is the Idea of Good.
  • In other words, for Plato, in God there is no shadow of unrighteousness, or injustice.
  • Hence, the conception God of Plato is a perfect God who is endowed with all the perfections as he is the source of all good.
  • Metaphysically, God is said to be an architect and not a creator God, for God created the world not out of itself but according to the original pattern of the ideal realm.

Plato Provides Two Arguments or Proofs for the Existence of God. They Are

  • Teleological argument or the Design argument:
    • According to Plato, the world is designed by God because there lies a purpose or goal behind it.
    • That purpose or goal is that all men may become as good as the God himself.
    • As a result, he created soul with intelligence and reason, so that man may always find an association with God.
    • It is an a-posteriori argument.
  • Cosmological argument or the First principle of Motion argument:
    • According to Plato, there must be an un-caused reality for the existing universe.
    • That un-caused reality is God.
    • In other words, everything that exists has a cause, so, for the world to exist, it must have a cause and that cause is the uncaused God (the unmoved mover or the primary cause) .
    • It is an a-priori argument.


1. According to Plato, Ideas are


A. In-itself

B. For-itself

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: C

2. According to Plato, embodied spirit consist of ________ parts

A. Two

B. Three

C. Four

D. One

Answer: B

3. The teleological argument for the existence of God is also known as

A. Design argument

B. A-priori argument

C. First principle

D. All of these

Answer: A

4. According to Plato, God is

A. A creator God.

B. An architect God

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: B

5. According to Plato, ________ is the highest Idea

A. Idea of Justice

B. Idea of Beauty

C. Idea of Good

D. All of these

Answer: C

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