1. Describe and discuss Plato’s metaphysics and epistemology, especially his theory of the “Forms.” By describing:
(a). “Divided Line”
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Plato’s allegory of the divided line argues that line should be read as if it depicts or provides the basis of scale. He asserts, the four things should be arranged according to their levels of reality. These four realities include: illusion, belief, reasoning and understanding. For Plato, the world of forms has some strong sense which is distinct from the other world of perceptible things. Moreover, the way these things are approached depends on the method taken to access those who have the grasp of the intelligible things. The four models composing the line are arranged into categories of the visible world and those in the intelligible world (Watt, 1997). Therefore, their arrangement is based on the degree of reality they contain.
(b). Analogy of the sun (as the Good)
This analogy immediately follows that of the divided line. In this analogy, the sun is viewed as the source of “intellectual illumination,” as well as the form of the Good. Plato believed the sun represented the notion of God. In this case, the metaphor entails the nature of the great reality and how knowledge is acquired. This knowledge entails the form of good and God. The analogy involves the following: firstly, the eye is not in a position to see visible objects such as a tree in the absence of the sun. On the same, the mind cannot understand the forms without the form of the Good. Secondly, the sun should have a nature akin to the sun so that it is able to see things which include trees among others (Watt, 1997). In addition, the soul ought to have the akin to the Good, thus it can be in a position to know the forms. Thirdly, the sun makes it possible for plants and other living to generate. It is also responsible for creating them. Fourthly, Plato was confident the Good is the source of truth and knowledge. However, the two are not identical to each other. Lastly, the good is the source of being. In fact, it is the source of beyond being in terms of dignity and power.
(c). Allegory of the Cave (The Assent of the Soul)
The allegory of the cave is based on Plato’s understanding that humankind can think and speak among other activities even in absence of the knowledge of the forms. In this allegory, Plato brings a scenario of the chained in cave prisoners, which cannot even turn their heads. In this position, the only thing they can see is the cave’s wall. Behind them, there is fire and between them and the fire – a parapet where puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers hold puppets casting shadows on the wall of the cave. Prisoners can see these shadows. By seeing the shadows, the prisoners are able to talk. However, their interpretation of what they see on the wall of the cave is different from each other. The shadows that pass before their eyes are interpreted generally according to their language and understanding (Watt, 1997). For instance, alone prisoner may term a shadow as a book in obedience to his thinking. Nevertheless, Plato states the prisoner perhaps has mistaken since he would be wrong simply because he is trying to talk about what he is looking at. When the prisoners are released and turn their heads, they can see their error. This allegory is also supported by the argument that we live in the world where we are normally trapped by our senses. The level of these senses cannot actually capture the vitality of various forms in their actual setting. These bring a scenario where our mind must make judgments about the objects we see with our eyes. In short, Plato argues that we can mistake about what we think in our minds about the forms, but we can always grasp various forms in our minds.
2. Briefly describe and explain Aristotle’s four causes and his epistemology that relies on experience.
Aristotle’s four causes include the next: the material cause, which is associated with the knowledge gained through sensation; formal cause, which is given to the experience of the knowing truth and being; efficient and final cause. Both efficient and final causes are linked with the most advanced way of knowing.
Aristotle stresses that notion of knowledge from metaphysics states that knowledge is mainly graded. This means there are various ways of knowing. In his understanding, the lowest level of knowing is the sensation while experience comes second. The third level is made of both sensation and knowledge. At this level, the experience develops into a skill or art. He emphasizes the highest level of knowledge is achieved through comprehending some of the unchanging external factors and other effects. He maintains that knowledge is based on the cause and outcome (Watt, 1997). In his metaphysics analysis of knowledge, Aristotle argues that there are limits to which the knowledge can be gained.
3. Discuss Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s metaphysics and theory of the Forms as well as the differences between Plato and Aristotle’s use of reason and experience as epistemological tools for finding reality and the truth of the world.
Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s metaphysics and theory of the forms involves few aspects. Firstly, Aristotle declares that what Plato calls forms do not exist. Therefore, his argument about forms is not convincing. Additionally, things that humankind thinks are not even forms. Aristotle asserts that, from the scientific point of view, forms of things are termed to be sciences. He refutes the claim that there is an object of thought and these thoughts can perish with time. Aristotle states that images always form in our mind and maintains these ideas on relations. The latter argues our ideas are the best forms (Russell, 2000). He convinces that if these forms are present, then it is possible to develop other substances. Moreover, the forms Plato theorizes to be present rely on understanding that can be achieved through other methods such as science. According to Plato, all individuals belong to some forms. That is the reason why we are able to recognize something when we see it in the nature. He concludes that forms include beliefs and ideas and they may be shared accidentally among human beings.
Some of the differences between Plato and Aristotle’s use of reason and experience as epistemological tools for finding the reality and truth of the world entail the below indicated. First of all, Plato believed that humankind always have innate ideas even before one gains any knowledge through experience. Through this, Plato claimed the real world was consisted of various ideas and what people see is normally given form of the ideas they possess. On the contrary, Aristotle was sure that persons have attached ideas to the objectives they perceive (Russell, 2000). Furthermore, he advocated that names given to the individual objects are only ways of organizing perceptions to knowledge. Aristotle’s understanding of epistemological is highly based on sensationalism through the sense organs while Plato’s believes that reality and truth are associated with the Form of the Good.