Plato’s Forms as Functions and Structures

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Dorothea Frede Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Hamburg Hamburg Germany

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Despite the fact that the theory of Forms is regarded as the hallmark of Plato’s philosophy, it has remained remarkably elusive, because it is more hinted at than explained in his dialogues. Given the uncertainty concerning the nature and extension of the Forms, this article makes no pretense to coming up with solutions to all problems that have occupied scholars since antiquity. It aims to elucidate only two aspects of that theory: the indication in certain dialogues that the Forms are what in modern parlance are called functions or purposes, and the indication in other dialogues that such functions rely on harmonious structures.

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