Plato, the Forms and Fictional Worlds

We had a very mind-bending lesson this week, where we had our first taste of Ancient Greek philosophy! Last week, we saw how the Athenians had the first known democracy – a direct democracy where everyone who was entitled to do so, voted on all issues. We contrasted this with our own representational democracy today.

Today we looked at the covers of three well-known works of dystopian fiction, as well as one work of utopian philosophy – and asked you to identify what connected them all. the novels were Farenheit 451, 1984 and Brave New World, and the philosophical work was The Republic by Plato.

You guessed that in all of them there was no democracy. What you didn’t quite guess was that all of them featured societies that banned fiction! We talked about why a society might do that, and you all noted that it was connected to controlling people and limiting their ability to form their own ideas.

I explained that, for Plato, it was also connected to his belief about the Forms. This is a belief that everything in the world is a copy of an ideal ‘form’ that exists beyond the world. We are, according to Plato, all born with the awareness of the forms in our minds, so that is how we can perceive things.

plato-cats

We watched these two videos – one outlining Plato’s theory of the forms, and one outlining his famous allegory of the cave, which helps explain the theory, and show how we are all like prisoners in a cave. It explains why Plato rejected democracy – since he thought that we are too ignorant and stubborn to make good decisions – and fiction – since everything is already a copy.

Next lesson, we will explore the Republic in more detail.

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