Plato


Philosophy 107M


Final Draft Paper


Thesis: In regards to human and non-human animal


souls, Plato’s theory of forms is false.


In Plato’s description of the Universal Forms, he claims that they are completely unique. In this paper, I will suggest an example of two Forms that possess identical sufficient conditions. In light of this presentation, I will show how Plato’s theory of forms is false regarding human and non-human souls.


Plato’s Claim:


If X is a Form, then X is unique.


My Argument:


If two Forms have identical sufficient conditions, then Plato’s theory of Forms is false in regards to those two forms.


The Form of Animal and The Form of Human have identical sufficient conditions; therefore Plato’s theory of Forms is false in regards to these two forms.


In The Republic, Plato speaks of a god who created the “bed in nature.” He says that the god “didn’t make more than one bed in nature, but only one, the very one that is the being of a bed. Two or more of these have not been made by the god and never will be” (597c). This illustrates Plato’s theory that each and every one of the Forms is unique from all the rest. In Plato and the Republic, Nickolas Pappas says that one out of the three characteristics that identify forms is “Uniqueness.” He says, “The Form of X is the only one of its kind” (p. 127). He also says that “whatever else he was unsure of, Plato had made up his mind that for every property there could only be a single Form” (p. 201, 203). In light of these passages, we can assume that Plato believes every form is completely unique.


Now I will present an example of two Forms that have identical sufficient conditions. A human is a human if and only if he possesses a soul. The body, the brain, even the heart are not necessary conditions for the Form of Human. The only necessary condition for Humanness is the existence of a soul.


This is also true for the Form of Animal. The only necessary condition for Animalness is the presence of a soul. A monkey, for example, is still considered a monkey even after he is stripped of his physical parts because his soul still remains. In contrast, for example; a table is not still a table but nothing more than wood and nails once it has been chopped up.


When dealing with an entity as unclear as the soul, we must define just what a soul is. McHenry and Yagisawa defined a soul as something that has “psychological features – they must have beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on” (p. 224). Plato believed a soul consisted of three basic properties: reason, emotion, and appetite, with reason having the greatest value. These two definitions can be summed up in a single definition: a soul provides the ability to experience emotions, morality, and reason. In light of this definition and the universal belief that humans experience emotions, morality, and reason, we can correctly assume that humans possess a soul. However, there is no universal belief in regards to animals and their possession of a soul. Therefore, I will give examples to illustrate the existence of a soul in certain animals.


Animals learn many things from experience, and conclude that the same events will always follow from the same causes. This is an obvious show of reason. Animals become familiar with the properties of certain objects and gradually, from birth, build up knowledge of things such as water, fire, earth, rocks, height, depth, etc., and how to use these things to their advantage. It becomes obvious when watching a young animal and an older animal that the older is much wiser and has acquired knowledge from his years. A horse that has gotten used to a certain field becomes acquainted with the height at which he can jump the objects in that field. A primate who is given time and a sharp rock can eventually figure out through trial and error how to manipulate an object. Through observation of virtually any animal, one can conclude that it learns from its environment, then uses that knowledge to prosper and flourish. This proves that many animals have reason.


For example, in baseball, there is a sequence of