PLATO ON: The Forms

Asking one’s self and others
what the perfect version of something is the ideal version might sound like a strange idea What is the perfect marriage? or career? or system of government?
or school? It can feel immature and naïve
to bother much with such questions they’re just daydreams.
After all: who cares about ideal versions? we might as well deal with what we’ve got. But the great ancient Greek philosopher Plato strenuously disagrees with this. Throughout his work, he argues that focusing on the ideal version of something is one of the most useful kinds of thought excercises we can generate it’s by knowing how something should be like that we can more clearly
start to define what might be wrong and focus on what we need to do to make the world slightly better When he was talking about ideals, Plato used a slightly strange but ultimately useful word: THE FORMS So he asks not what is the *ideal* friendship or the *ideal* kind of parental love He asks what is the form of friendship, or the form of parental love. It does sound strange But what he had in mind was something very practical: When a Greek stonemason was carving an ornament, they wouldn’t just make it up themselves. They’d make use of a wooden template, or form, to check if they were getting it right. The form itself was made by the master But if the mason posesed the form, they could more reliably do perfect work. This is Plato’s basic picture of what an ideal is: It’s the guide you need that shows you how to do something well yourself. If you’ve got posession of the form, you can be guided towards a true goal. A form, as Plato sees it, is a blueprint a set of instructions for making a very good version of something. That’s why we all need a very well thought-through set of forms to guide us in life. And, unsurprinsingly, it is philosophy that can guide us to these forms. So, for example, the form of friendship
is a mental model of what a really good friendship actually involves. And if you grasp this model, if this idea is active in your mind, you will know how to be a good friend. Similarly, having a form of education in mind is going to be very usefull for the teacher It will stop her being buffeted
by events and day-to-day pressures she’ll be able to keep in mind
where, ideally, she should be going. We’ve typically thought of ideals
as phantasy projections that blindly ignore most of what life is actually like. We think of them as the opposite of being realistic. But Plato sees an ideal as a result of a deep understanding, and careful engagement with reality Someone setting up an airport would need, in the platonic scheme, to have in mind the ideal air traffic control system. Something optimally effective, efficient and safe. This is the person who would, in Plato’s terms, have grasped the form of air traffic control. We all need to have as many forms in mind as we possibly can. Plato is breaking the habitualistic assumption that searching for the ideal
is at odds with getting things done in the ruff and tumble of the real world. And he’s pushing us to be more exacting
about where we are trying to head to. If an ideal seems utterly distant and hopeless, maybe the problem isn’t that it’s too idealistic, but in a strange, but important, way actually not idealistic enough. That is, we have not quite yet discovered the form. We shouldn’t abandon our ideals, we should get more ambitious about them And Plato’s philosophy is on hand to help us.

100 thoughts on “PLATO ON: The Forms

  1. To ppl learning Plato: This is just one way of understanding Plato's Forms. In this vid they argue that Plato's Forms (which is his metaphysical system) show us pure, formal concepts of things. The Forms are a lot more than that, but this is one important feature !

  2. OK. This idea is what you usually answer people telling you "utopias are useless by def., quit dreaming, come back to reality".
    I too seem to recall that Plato mostly states that these "forms" are the essence of the world, of which our material realities (or the words we describe them ?) are but shades. But hey, let's talk only about what the video says.

    We shouldn't conclude that having a "form" in your mind makes you better, or always helps tend towards the ideal.
    This warning is most useful when dealing with people that, in a given field, are not as capable as the one building the "form".
    I'm writing this useless stuff because I feel an urge to order my thoughts and make the "video+comment" consistent and exhaustive to my mind, I'm just a random guy who "knows" nothing (and doesn't speak English natively). Now it's finished, it all seems even more vain and obvious, but hey, Internet is there for this.

    First, your "form" may be suboptimal, or contain a flaw that makes it plain wrong. To avoid making a dictature based on thiss form and then regretting, one should always be critical of any ideal. In Jungian terms, as a Ne-Ti user, I'd advocate you not to let Ni/Si-Te get you too far ; don't be the kind of "idealistic" that holds strong to one idea, whether accepted from society or created freely, and never questions it. Think and feel again, in the new light of different temperaments, maturities, and facts.

    Second, your "form" may be plain irrealistic, and the way towards it within the domain of possibility is not worth the effort. Moreover, by putting into the minds of everyone an ideal that they cannot reach, you may push them to do a worse job than ever – maybe even because one day they realize they can't reach the ideal, and this kills their will. The image of the teacher made this limit raise immediately in my mind.

    Third, but also through the previous points, "forms" are not as universal as people seem to believe, and even then, not necessarily unique – for complex problems. In the context of your class and your abilities, there are some ways that are "near ideal" for you to teach, but as for any optimization, everything depends upon the way to judge the "order" : what is better than something else ?

    Lastly, we should still remain able to be happy with what we are doing ; let's still experience and enjoy life "as it is", even while improving things 😀 also, this experience will feed our "form" (as Se also feeds intuition… omg Gustav leave my mind).

  3. I agree with Plato fully. Many people in our decedent sociaty have no idea what they want, and they have a lot of troubles with this.

  4. Nature in general can, however, function as a form to any idea inasmuch as a source of ideals: In this sense fallen nature is contrasted with a supposed celestial realization of structural forms, the essence of something of a theory of ‘forms’ come to have, developed, or acquired from habit, or the constitution or compose a usually basic element, part, or characteristic to make (as a word) by derivation or composition as put in order, arranged to become formed or shaped, as taking form arise if only to assume of a specified form, shape, or pattern or outline of a conclusive events. The theory of ‘forms’ is probably the most characteristic, and most contested of the doctrines of Plato. If in the background Pythagorean conception of form is completely illusionary, but the cause of normative constructs as mental activities can assess the structural functions or immediate environment in the effect to other centralities. Where the ‘idea’ is given to birth, this position of a particularly peculiar point in space and time, showing it’s stationed in the mind. The mind would assess the permanent actions that stimulate the retinal vision, so as the idea is given to grow. This creation of idea, said Pythagoras, allows our entry, as generated by the idea into the domain or Reality, i.e., changing illusion into something understandable. The idea brings to us, the reality from which came through the illusionary ranges of chaos and disorder, in which we are without alternatives, but the ‘idea’ as our offensive. Nonetheless, if taken forward by some 4000 years into the now. The idea, which brings our entry into quantum mechanics, which has a frightening similarity of occurrence, such that quantum physics stresses much of a Pythagorean view of space and time, especially the illusionary properties that we do not as yet understand, but, it must be said, that quantum reality, if it exists, is said that, if you look at something, it moves, simply because you looked at it. This combining hesi of timers generations have in bringing together, perhaps, nothing as spectacularly viewed as new, but to the exception of the ‘idea’. The idea seems perfectly placable, in fact, that these lines seem very attractive, however.

  5. So… is there a form for everything?
    Is there a form of communism, anarcho-syndicalism, liberalism, every single utopia imaginable?
    Is there a form for every single alterations of a thing? for example, man-ness, woman-ness, intersex-ness? what about non-binary genders…

  6. I love these videos. I have to admit I quite casually dismissed philosophy as abstract thinking with little practical application, but these shorts on philosophy have really helped me gain a new found deep respect for the discipline.

  7. Viewing these philosophy videos, I came to realize, Philosophy and classical music have something in coming: Everything is awesome… They have the same natural frequency…

  8. I wish all University lecturers had this guys voice and eloquence…I would actually enjoy going to class and listening to what they have to say.

  9. تطبيق جميل جداً عن حكم الفلاسفة:

  10. 'Form' is from Latin. Contrary to your video, Plato actually uses the word 'idea' & also 'eidolon' (meaning 'image')

    This video is basically a fail

  11. Why is there an advertisement for an anti-depressant with a video about philosophy? is it true that people turn to philosophy during depression and the advertisers are acutely aware of this fact?

  12. So you're not even going to attempt to explain what he meant? This video is useless, it tells the benefits of the idea of "Forms" without ever actually explaining what he meant. I doubt whether you yourself know.

  13. If you would like to discover the True Forms, try psychedelics in large doses. The world of higher truth is available to us all, but we need the key to unlock the door in our minds, and the key is psychedelics, used carefully. Terence McKenna gives good advice on how to use psychedelics. It is thought that in ancient Greece, the sacrament used to connect to the Divine was ergot or possibly magic mushrooms. Plato undoubtedly had psychedelic experiences, from where he derived his ideas, based on the Forms he connected to.

  14. Understanding Plato's idea of forms is actually useful if you're into computer programming, you need to be able to understand things on an abstract level and break them down into their most fundamental pieces. For instance, a car has fundamental properties like wheels, an engine, seats, and so on, but your specific car may have red paint and a V8 engine with a dent on the fender. Knowing this you can program a template class Car and use that to derive any form of a car you wish.

  15. This explains the "forms" as a intellectual construct, I thought Plato asserted "forms" as some type pre-existing archetype to be uncovered rather than constructed…. they exist in some way in a state of perfection in a reality apart from this one.?????

  16. Form as a blueprint? I don't think that's right. This seems to be treating forms as something being almost a vague abstraction… but a form is more real than the think in our world that our senses can apprehend.

  17. If something (A form) cannot be proven, experienced or seen it doesnt exist. Dont waste your time musing about things that cant be proven. Its akin to believing in a mystical god. I dont know why everyone here is praising plato, i guess you want to live in a totalitarian regime.

  18. Its offensive for anyone to tell me they know better than me. They know the true "Form". They know how my friendships should look or how my sculptures should be. Plato's ideas always lead to dictatorships, collectivism and the mystical rule of the clergy.

  19. Wow, so Plato is asserting that ideas are as real as we are and that we can abandon or rebuild beliefs that we no longer feel fit the ideal. This is a powerful tool to understanding our minds and guiding us towards truth and understanding in life.

  20. What makes Plato a "Great Philosopher"? Is it that his ideas were grand and encompassed the human condition–is it that his ideas are the best, most thorough, or most inspirational–or is it that his impact on future generations was so intense, widespread, and therefore Great? I think Plato is an average philosopher.

    And here's why I make a point about this. In college we read the Great Philosophers, discuss and debate their work. But we rarely go outside this narrow category. We trust the impressions and appraisals of former generations of philosophers and historians as to what philosophers we should listen to–as to who is Great. But in so building up our ideas about the fundamental conditions of the world, the human condition, society, government, etc., using these "legitimate ideas," blueprints already handed down to us for millenia, is it not possible that we are inculcating and internalizing a restrictive set of ideas? Maybe our schools should primarily teach instead what tools we need to explore new ideas.

  21. Unless I've misunderstood, I dont think this 'forms' idea of Plato's is a very good one. I think it has the ability to lead to depression… Its the whole idea of religion isn't it? As in Jesus being the perfect being. And striving to be more Christ like in yr life, it ultimately leads people to think their not good enough. Or comparing oneself to others who've achieved these ideals why you yourself haven't… Its the whole idea of the general public trying to be like famous people… The grass is never greener on the other side… I love platos alagorie of the cave,, thats how I feel every day , but this seems stupid for an enlightened man to come up with, it can only lead to depression and feelings of not good enough… Thats my opinion anyway. People are ultimately inclined to negative self talk so this does not seem like an answer

  22. holly, this channel is amazing, even i can find captions on my language to understand everithing perfectly, thanks. btw plato was really genious , he makes me think about lot of stuff

  23. One thing I found strange is that the narrator doesn't distinguish between Forms and forms, though makes inferences that Forms can actually exist in this physical Reality, when even Plato denied this. "The Form itself [wooden archetype] was made by the master" (1:25)… how?

  24. Radical thought. The problem with humans teharding this "school of form" is that very quickly it takes on a means of control by those who decide what "ideal" form is. Rarely is it fair or equitable but rather exclusionary and self serving.

  25. An apple is a sweet, edible fruit produced by an apple tree (wikipedia). if we find an object that hasnt come from an apple tree but is exact same with an apple we call it an apple? i mean how we make definition of something? we define something from its image or from its image and some unique properties? sry for bad english

  26. Dear Alain de Bottonm ,i am fan of your work and voice .I Have request for you please have a look into Thiruvalluvar a famous Tamil poet and philosopher .He is best known for Thirukkuṛaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, political and economical matters, and love. The text is considered as one of the finest works of the Tamil literature

  27. This video misses the mark. Plato's forms aren't as described. There's no difference between a beautiful woman and a beautiful flower, they're only beautiful by imitating the form of the Beautiful. Both the flower and the woman must possess qualities of the form of the Beautiful for us to call them beautiful. The same applies to Justice. The laws are different from one place to the next, so what qualities must something possess for us to call it just? There are things that are perfectly legal in one state, but a felony in another. If this were justice, we'd call one man just and the other unjust for doing the same act only in different states. His metaphysics are concrete ideas about seemingly abstract things, not about "ideal forms".

  28. Nobody has ever seen a perfect circle or a perfectly straight line in nature. And once Euclid et al. began to think about this non-physical ealm of perfect forms and their relationships, abstract thinking (& mathematics) began to take-off. Plato is applying the same, newly-discovered, strategy.
    In school, one of the sillier ways to talk about Plato is to say that he "believed in the existence of ideal forms." However if students write this in their notebooks and remember that "Plato believed . . ." they add these Greek philosophers to a long list of people in history what had "beliefs." Plato was reporting an exciting "if . . .then" discovery about thinking that (powerfully) always worked. Good job, School of Life: this improves the standard sound bite history lectures.

  29. The Platonists, hold that abstractions exist as real entities or archetypes in another dimension of reality and that the concretes we perceive are merely their imperfect reflections, but the concretes evoke the abstractions in our mind. (According to Plato, they do so by evoking the memory of the archetypes which we had known, before birth, in that other dimension.)

  30. Please read Phaedrus. Only the Gods see the forms in full, and rarely do humans even glimpse them. This error really undermines how hard it is to attempt to live in accordance to the forms—a (very hard) task of the philosopher.

  31. If you think about it, this is a lot like Holography where there's two beans (originally from the same laser) whereby one observes the reference object and the other shines directly on to the holographic plate.

  32. So, this video actually does not explain Plato's idea of the forms. Like many of the videos on this site, it explains one persons very watered down version of what they think this is about.

  33. The way i see it does not go hand and hand with plato becuse mine is more so trying to understand communication in general like when i say cat most people will think of a cat the cats what the cat looks like will vary from orange or black and white this is a form whether this cat is perfect is subjective like most things

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