Part 9

The Forms are not Real

by Aristotle Icon

The Platonists think that the Ideas are the causes of the things around us.

  • They introduced other Ideas equal in number to these phenomena.

A man who wanted to count things will not be able to count if they were few.

  • So he adds to them in order to count them.

The Forms are practically equal to, or at least not fewer than the things that they represent.

They say each thing has an entity which:

  • has the same name
  • exists apart from the substances [matter].

This entity is over the many things, whether those things are physical or eternal.

There is no convincing way to prove that the Forms exist.

  • This is because Forms come from the imagination*.

*Superphysics Note: The Forms are Ideas that come from the metaphysical domain. Unlike imaginary things which are isolated in the metaphysical domain, Ideas have links to the physical domain.

They imply that:

  • there wil be Forms for each of the sciences.
  • there will be Forms even for negations
    • This is according to the ‘one over many’ argument
  • there will be Forms of perishable things
    • This is according to the argument that there is an object for thought even when the thing has perished*

*Superphysics Note: This allows destroyed things to be rebuilt from the idea of them

Some arguments lead to Ideas of relations, of which we say there is no independent class.

Others introduce the ’third man’.

In general, the arguments for the Forms implies that:

  • number is first, and not the dyad.
  • the relative is prior to the absolute

Forms vs Substance

Besides, the Ideas conflict with the principles of their own theory.

They say that Substances will have Forms.

  • But this means that those Forms are Substances*.

*Superphysics Note: No, the Forms are not Substances. Only Aristotle’s weird logic creates separate Substances, when they are already Forms.

If the Ideas and their physical representations have the same form, then there will be something common to these.

  • The general idea of ‘2’ is clearly different from the real specific instances of ‘2’.

If they are different then they do have the same form.

  • It means that they only have the name ‘2’ in common.
  • This is the same as calling both Callias and his statue a ‘man’, without observing any community between them.

Above all, what do the Forms contribute to sensible things*?

  • They cause neither movement nor any change in them.
  • They do not help in knowing the other things (for they are not even the substance of those things).

*Superphysics Note: The Forms can be used to predict the outcome, evolution, or movement of things. This is useful in predicing economic crises, revolution, presidential elections, product trends, disease, earthquakes, typhoons, movements of celestial bodies, etc. by modeling them in a computer which only uses numbers.

Anaxagoras, and later Eudoxus, first argued that the Idea of white causes whiteness in a white object by entering into it.

  • But this has many objections.

Any object can either become like another object without being copied from it.

  • This means that Socrates or a man like Socrates exist.
  • Evidently, this might be so even if Socrates were eternal.

There will be several patterns of the same thing and therefore several Forms.

  • ‘Animal’ and ’two-footed’ and also ‘man himself’ will be Forms of man.

The Forms are patterns of sensible things and of Forms themselves i.e. the genus, as genus of various species, will be so.

  • Therefore, the same thing will be pattern and copy.

It is impossible that the Substance-idea and the actual Substance should exist apart.

  • Therefore, how could the Ideas, being the substances of things, exist apart*?

*Superphysics Note: Ideas are not Substances

In Phaedo, the Forms are causes both of being and of becoming.

  • Yet when the Forms exist, still the things that share in them do not come into being unless there is something to originate movement.
  • Many other things come into being (e.g. a house or a ring) that have no Forms*.

*Superphysics Note: The form f the house or ring is the idea for the house or ring.

Therefore, even the other things can both be and come into being arbitrarily.

If the Forms are numbers, how can they be causes?*

  • Is it because existing things are other numbers, e.g. one number is man, another is Socrates, another Callias?
  • Why then are the one set of numbers causes of the other set?

*Superphysics Note: Form are only interpreted into numbers if they are used for comparison with other things of the same kind.

It will not make any difference even if the former are eternal and the latter are not.

But if it is because things in this sensible world (e.g. harmony) are ratios of numbers, evidently the things between which they are ratios are some one class of things. If, then, this–the matter–is some definite thing, evidently the numbers themselves too will be ratios of something to something else.

E.g. if Callias is a numerical ratio between fire and earth and water and air, his Idea also will be a number of certain other underlying things; and man himself, whether it is a number in a sense or not, will still be a numerical ratio of certain things and not a number proper, nor will it be a of number merely because it is a numerical ratio.

From many numbers one number is produced. But how can one Form come from many Forms?

If the number comes not from the many numbers themselves but from the units in them, e.g. in 10,000, how is it with the units?

If they are specifically alike, numerous absurdities will follow, and also if they are not alike (neither the units in one number being themselves like one another nor those in other numbers being all like to all); for in what will they differ, as they are without quality? This is not a plausible view, nor is it consistent with our thought on the matter.

“Further, they must set up a second kind of number (with which arithmetic deals), and all the objects which are called ‘intermediate’ by some thinkers; and how do these exist or from what principles do they proceed? Or why must they be intermediate between the things in this sensible world and the things-themselves?

“Further, the units in must each come from a prior but this is impossible.

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