The Republic

Plato's Forms and Philosopher-Kings College

According to Plato, true knowledge originates in the realm of the Forms, or universal, eternal, constant, and absolute truths that only the mind can access, such as the Form of the Good or the Form of the Just. Forms are not part of the visible world, they are abstract, non-material ideas that are responsible for rendering things for what they are; justice and all things just are only so because of the Form of the Just. Plato essentially invents the theory of the Forms and introduces it in the Republic to continue his defense of philosophers. In the Republic, in particular, Plato uses the Forms not only to once again attempt to separate Socrates from another group of philosophers, specifically the aesthetic philosophers, but also this time to give more power to the philosopher in the City-State. In the Republic, Plato takes a radical new step and gives political power to philosophers, or philosopher-kings, and claims that political power and philosophy are best to become one (Republic, 473c-d). However, the theory of the Forms is only an invention, a clever excuse that Plato attempts to use to promote the position of philosophers or philosophy itself, which fails to be convincing for two reasons: (1) the Forms may not at all be...

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