The Forms

-Plato’s forms are an account of insight,. i.e. of the thing we see when we have an insight. What did Newton see in the apple? The same thing Archimedes saw in the bath, or Augustine saw in his sin before his conversion.  What do you see whenever you “get it”?

-I can remember having a mental block for months over what an indirect question is. I actually kept asking things like “I want to know what an indirect question is.” At some point I just got it. This is the thing itself.

Platonic forms aren’t ghosts of things in some heavenly museum. They’re what you see when, after some time with mere examples, names, mechanical manipulations of things, diverse appearances whose unity is hidden, little formulae that you know how to use, etc. you suddenly see what the thing is.

-This insight is compatible with error. Newton did see the Platonic form of all bodies in the heaviness (gravitatis) of the apple. So what if gravity later got redefined?

-The form is not an ideal, except so far as the ideal is particularly good at making what the thing is known.

-The form is not the mind of God, except so far as insight often seems like revelation.

-Saying platonic form is an account of insight is an attempt to speak of the platonic form of platonic form. Before insight, we have any number of things: a word that one repeats, an idea you try to explain to students reading the Phaedo, an idea that the commentators never seem to quite “get” but which they always speak about, a subject people talk about in college or a class that no one knows quite what to do with, an object we train an animal, machine, child or student to react to. It’s often an idea you try to refute.

-Plato posits forms to account for why we have more than doxa, that is, something that, even if true, is a prejudice. It is literally pre-judgment, since we judgment is of what things are. Judgment is also form. 

-Negations can take part in form. It is also a revelation to see that something are not others and never can be. Repentance or metanoia is an insight into a form, though a privation of one.

-Soul is the place of forms. The reasoning is largely an algorithm that could be better executed by the inhuman.



  1. Socrates said,

    April 30, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Dear Mr. Chastek:

    Are you familiar with Venerable Fulton Sheen’s “Philosophy of Science?” If so, would you recommend it?

    Thank you.

    Christi pax.

    • April 30, 2015 at 10:08 am

      I enjoyed reading Sheen’s earlier academic stuff, though I don’t remember any of it in particular.

      Dekoninck hated Sheen’s work, though CDK was under-diplomatic in relating to those who differed and deviated from his own thought.

      One pitfall to watch for in any philosophy of science written by those with a sympathy for natural theology is that they tend to want to divide the two in a way that forever precludes their integration. Some initial isolation and separation of the two discourses is necessary in order for either to grow and get off the ground, but at some point theology and sciences need to be re-integrated. No one has shown us the way forward yet in this re-integration, though there are scattered small voices.

      • Socrates said,

        April 30, 2015 at 3:47 pm

        Ok. Thank you!

        Christi pax.

  2. Anon said,

    April 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    “No one has shown us the way forward yet in this re-integration, though there are scattered small voices.”

    Who would you recommend among those scattered small voices?

%d bloggers like this: