Sunday, April 17, 2011

plato's theroy of the forms

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Its is difficult to say or give a precise definition of what a person is. While the idea of


a person was around in the Greco- Roman times, it had none of the importance it


came to have later. During Roman times the word person meant a character one


played. However during the rd �7th centuries the Christian Church made the


Order Custom Essay on plato's theroy of the forms


distinction between person and nature become important; the Trinity came to


be understood as one nature and three persons, Christ as two natures and one


person. In modern times the entry of a secular philosophy into the western world has


led to replacing talk about the human soul to talk about the person. According to


David wiggins there are three perspectives on persons (1) the idea of the person


as the object of biological, anatomical, neurophyiological and other forms of scientific


investigation. () the idea of the person as the subject of consciousness. () The idea


of the person as the locus of moral attributes and the source of conceptual origin of


value.


Modern views of a person


Descrates identifies the person with the mind ”I am a thinking thing”.


Locke took a similar view to Descartes. Only since Descartes and lockes view


has the idea of identifying oneself with ones mind, understood narrowly as


consciousness and memory, become current. What we see here is of the self looking


out from the mind and looking at the world, like a spirt in the shell of the body.


The ancients and medievals saw the distinguishing point of the human person as


rationality. With Descartes and his successers, it turns to consciousness, and is more


dualistic, in that consciousness does not need to be embodied. However the most


important part in consciousness is that one comes up with ideas of different types


of objects. David hume disagreed with Descarte and Locke. Hume said “ when I


enter most intimately into what I call myself , i always stumble on some perception


or other, of hot or cold, light or dark, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I can never


catch myself without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception


“ . he put forward that human beings are nothing more than collection of perceptions


which succeed each other, and are in constant movement. They are the successive


perceptions only, the constitute the mind.


Thomas reid did not agreed with Humes view of the person. He argued that


Personal identity emplies the continued existence of an indivisible thing we call


Myself. This self is something which thinks, deliberates, resolves, acts and suffers.


We are not thoughts, actions, or feelings we are something, that thinks, acts and


Suffers. According to Reid our thoughts, actions and feelings change from moment to


moment, they have not got a continued, but a successive existence and the self or I to


which they belong is permanent, but has the same relation to all succeeding thoughts,


actions, and feelings which we call mine. Reids argument follows the traditional view


of Descarte and Liebniz that a person is a person is a simple substance or immortal


soul. It is for this reason that it cannot be analysed or broken down into smaller parts,


nor can personal identity.


Immanuel kant kept the consciousness notion of the person which Hume disagreed


with, but he also introduced another angle to the problem of person person as agent.


He explains the difference between agent and consciousness. Kant took leibnizs


Explanation between phenomena which, being observable, are the matter of science,


and noumena which are unobservable. Kant regarded the person under two aspects


we are animals and our fate is controlled by natural forces, and we our agents,


regarding ourselves as free and responsible for our actions and the boss of our lives.


Twentieth century Philosophers such as Sartre and Heideggar held that existence


precedes essence. What they meant by this comment was while we exist as human


beings, we exist as persons only by making choices, which included choosing our


own values, therefore that statements means that being a person is something acquired


Kant totally rejects that position put forward.


Charles taylor said “person is a being who has a sense of self, has a notion of


the future and past, can hold values, and make choices”. Taylors view is related to


the notion of intentionality a person who can hold and have views on the world


himself in his mind, he can think about them, have emotions about them, make


decisions about them, and act them, knowing he is an I subject, doing this.


According to Charles taylor to be a person also you must have attitudes, desires,


A first-person perspective and life- projects.


After given the views of some philosophers the view I would take would be the


view of David hume, he offers one of the better definitions of what a person is. Kant,


Sartre and Heidegger views I would completely rejected. Kant argues that a person is


Active, creative, a moral agent and is unobservable therefore anyone who is not active


Creative or moral is not a person this I would completely rejected my view would be


That we are all people no matter how active, creative, or moral we are. Sartre and


Heidegger argued that we come to be persons by making individual choices however


It could be argued that you are born with inherited traits which forms your personality


Therefore you are a person when you are born and its is not something you become


by making choices.








Aristotle is regarded as the founder of the European scientific tradition . He emphasised the importance of direct observation of nature, and believed that all events should have causes , which brought him into conflict with his teacher Plato . Aristotle believed that nothing can exist in consciousness , that has not already been experienced by the senses , which conflicted with Plato’s theory of ideas . Primarily a biologist he approaches his studies as a naturalist , i.e. what accounts for species and at the same time what accounts for individuation of species . What makes a human , human ? . He believed it was our form which made us what we are i.e. human ,and our substance which gave us our identity i.e. a principal of individuality . Each substance has a built in pattern which grows in a particular way for a specific end or purpose , e.g. an acorn is an oak at a certain stage . Aristotle divides nature into two categories , living and non- living things . Only living things have the potential for change. This is according to Jostein Gaarder in the book “Sophies world” page


5.


He then divides living things into two categories , one comprises of plants and the other creatures . Lastly the creatures can be divided into animals and humans . All plants , animals , and humans have the ability to grow , propagate , and reach a certain potential . Only animals and humans have the ability to perceive the world around them , but only humans have the ability to reason and make choices about their nature . He grows and takes nourishment like a plant , he can feel and perceive like an animal , but he also has the unique characteristic of man , and that is to think rationally . “The animals other than man live by appearances and memories , and have but little of connected experience ; but the human race lives also by art and reasonings”.


Aristotle regarded the human person as unified being , and a part of nature. He defined the soul as a “kind of functioning of a body organised so that it can support vital functions” For him the psyche, or soul , is the animating force in a body . It is the ‘ efficient cause’ , the ‘formal cause’ and the ‘final cause’ of the body and it does not survive the death of the body. He maintains it has a nutritive or plant like part , which corresponds with bodily excellence; a sensory or animal part which corresponds with excellence of character ; and a rational , uniquely human part , which is excellence of intelligence. The rational part is the part with which the soul knows and thinks. In the case of the nutritive and sensory parts there are physical counterparts to , or manifestations of the souls activity , but in the case of the mind there is none . Aristotle says that the mind is not anything real without thoughts . We have to think of thoughts as imposing form on mind , as ‘in- forming’ it . He distinguishes between passive and active mind . The mind is passive in receiving or being informed by thought , but the mind can also be active and generative . In considering the soul as essentially associated with body he challenged the Pythagorean doctrine that the soul is a spiritual entity imprisoned in the body.


Therefore according to Aristotle man must also possess a spark of divine reason . His concept of God became important in the later development of a rational Christian philosophy and theology . In his physics Aristotle argued that everything is in motion and there cannot be a beginning or an end of motion , therefore there must be an eternal mover , who started all movement in the natural world . God is therefore the Unmoved Mover . He is eternal , non- material, unchanging , and perfect , He is actuality without potentiality , because potentiality involves change and change is less than perfect . He is also a person , but his thought is of thought itself and He is happy in His perfect knowledge of all things . Aristotle maintains that God does not moves things in a physical way but by virtue of being the ‘final cause’ of the universe , the ultimate good towards which all things move .


How do we arrive at all this knowledge ? Aristotle believed that the ultimate source of knowledge was sense perception . He held that the notions or concepts with we try to understand reality are derived from perception . If we did not perceive anything we would not learn or understand anything . He says that sense experience of things repeated many times , eventually allows a universal to form in the mind , and that the universal as such is recognised by the intellect . He maintained that from these experiences , comes the principle of skill and knowledge.


Aristotle now asks how should man live , and what does it take to live a good life. He thinks that man can only achieve happiness by using all his abilities and capabilities . It seemed to him though that freedom of choice made it impossible to get an absolutely accurate analysis of human affairs . Human nature certainly involves for everyone a capacity for forming habits , but the habits that a particular person forms , depends on how he was raised , his culture , and repeated personal choices . All human beings want happiness , which Aristotle called the ‘Eudaimon’ . The ‘Eudaimon’ is an active engaged realization of their innate capacities , but this goal can be achieved in many ways . He held that there are three forms of happiness . The first form is a life of happiness and pleasure , the second is as a free and responsible citizen , and the third form is the life of a thinker and philosopher . He believed that a man needed all three to have a life of complete happiness and fulfilment .





Aristotle regarded the human person as unified being , and a part of nature. He defined the soul as a “kind of functioning of a body organised so that it can support vital functions” For him the psyche, or soul , is the animating force in a body . It is the ‘ efficient cause’ , the ‘formal cause’ and the ‘final cause’ of the body and it does not survive the death of the body. He maintains it has a nutritive or plant like part , which corresponds with bodily excellence; a sensory or animal part which corresponds with excellence of character ; and a rational , uniquely human part , which is excellence of intelligence. The rational part is the part with which the soul knows and thinks. In the case of the nutritive and sensory parts there are physical counterparts to , or manifestations of the souls activity , but in the case of the mind there is none . Aristotle says that the mind is not anything real without thoughts . We have to think of thoughts as imposing form on mind , as ‘in- forming’ it . He distinguishes between passive and active mind . The mind is passive in receiving or being informed by thought , but the mind can also be active and generative . In considering the soul as essentially associated with body he challenged the Pythagorean doctrine that the soul is a spiritual entity imprisoned in the body.


Therefore according to Aristotle man must also possess a spark of divine reason . His concept of God became important in the later development of a rational Christian philosophy and theology . In his physics Aristotle argued that everything is in motion and there cannot be a beginning or an end of motion , therefore there must be an eternal mover , who started all movement in the natural world . God is therefore the Unmoved Mover . He is eternal , non- material, unchanging , and perfect , He is actuality without potentiality , because potentiality involves change and change is less than perfect . He is also a person , but his thought is of thought itself and He is happy in His perfect knowledge of all things . Aristotle maintains that God does not moves things in a physical way but by virtue of being the ‘final cause’ of the universe , the ultimate good towards which all things move .


How do we arrive at all this knowledge ? Aristotle believed that the ultimate source of knowledge was sense perception . He held that the notions or concepts with we try to understand reality are derived from perception . If we did not perceive anything we would not learn or understand anything . He says that sense experience of things repeated many times , eventually allows a universal to form in the mind , and that the universal as such is recognised by the intellect . He maintained that from these experiences , comes the principle of skill and knowledge.


Aristotle now asks how should man live , and what does it take to live a good life. He thinks that man can only achieve happiness by using all his abilities and capabilities . It seemed to him though that freedom of choice made it impossible to get an absolutely accurate analysis of human affairs . Human nature certainly involves for everyone a capacity for forming habits , but the habits that a particular person forms , depends on how he was raised , his culture , and repeated personal choices . All human beings want happiness , which Aristotle called the ‘Eudaimon’ . The ‘Eudaimon’ is an active engaged realization of their innate capacities , but this goal can be achieved in many ways . He held that there are three forms of happiness . The first form is a life of happiness and pleasure , the second is as a free and responsible citizen , and the third form is the life of a thinker and philosopher . He believed that a man needed all three to have a life of complete happiness and fulfilment .


Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of virtue or human excellence ; moral and intellectual . Moral virtue is an expression of character formed by habits . A moral virtue is always the ‘mean’ between two less desirable extremes . Courage for example is the ‘mean’ between cowardice and rashness , and generosity is the ‘mean’ between extravagance and meaness. Intellectual virtues are not subject to this doctrine of the ‘mean’. Full excellence he argued, can be realized , only by mature male adults of the upper class. He believed women were incomplete in some way an ‘unfinished man’. He also believed that all a child’s characteristics lay in the male sperm and the woman only provided the substance while the man provided the form . He maintained also that women , manual workers , and non - Greeks could never achieve full excellence .


I find Aristotles theories fascinating, especially as the problems he tried to deal


With are still being discussed today. However I find his theory on women


disappointing for a man of such intelligence. However one would have to consider


the time and the culture that Aristotle grew up in. having said that he formed his own


ideas and theories on many other issues, disappointing me futher he followed the


general consciences on women. He obviously didn’t achieve full excellence as a


biologist if he could be so wrong about the relationship between men and women.





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