Plato's "Theory of Forms"



 
 
 

The Theory of Forms begins in the epistemological context of distinguishing knowledge from opinion, but the epistemological distinction between "knowledge" vs. "opinion" immediately implies a metaphysical distinction between what is real versus what merely appears to be so, or in other words "reality" vs. "appearance". Moreover, the ethical question of distinguishing the "truly just soul" from the "merely appearing just" is never far in the background. Thus the Theory of Forms is an epistemological-metaphysical-ethical theory all wrapped into one, or to put it more specifically, the Forms play three roles:
 
  • epistemological
  • metaphysical
  • ethical