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Philosophy & Ethics

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AS Religious Studies


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Foundation for the Study of Religion
Part One: Philosophy of Religion

Plato and the Forms
Influence of Socrates

• Socrates said that virtue is knowledge – to know what is right is to do what is right. • All wrongdoing is the result of ignorance – nobody chooses to do wrong deliberately. • Therefore, to be moral you must have true knowledge.

The problem of the One and the Many

Plato was trying to find a solution to the problem that although there is underlying stability in the world (sun comes up every morning), it is constantly changing (you never step into the same river twice).

1. An old theory about this problem is that we gain all knowledge from our senses – empirically. 2. Plato disagreed with this. He said that because the world is constantly changing, our senses cannot be trusted. Plato illustrated his idea in the dialogue, ‘Meno’:

Socrates sets a slave boy a mathematical problem. The slave boy knows the answer, yet he has not been taught maths. Plato suggests that the slave boy remembers the answer to the problem, which has been in his mind all along.

So, according to Plato, we don't learn new things, we remember them. In other words, knowledge is innate.

Plato’s Theory of the Forms

Plato believed that the world was divided into: 1. Reality and; 2. Appearance

|An intelligible world |A visible world |
|A world beyond the senses |A world of senses |
|A world of true knowledge |A world of opinions |

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