Our next discussion of Plato focuses on the single best known aspect of his thought - the world of the forms. Plato believed that we recognize in the imperfect things of this world 'copies' of ideal things that are perfect. These perfect things are eternal and unchanging, and are known to us because we recall them from a prior existence.
By setting forth this view of reality, Plato was attempting to synthesize the notion of 'being' found in Parmenides, with the idea of 'becoming' from Heraclitus. He leans toward Parmenides, however, and emphasizes that the only true knowledge must originate in his world of forms. All else amounts only to what he calls 'opinion.'
Christians have seen in this theory a concept that seems quite compatible with the Christian philosophy, in so far as God represents the ultimate and eternal source of all truth, goodness, and beauty. Enthusiasm for Plato must be tempered, however, as we have noted earlier. The Christian faith also affirms the significance of this world in a way that exceeds anything found in the philosophy of this great Greek thinker.
This wide ranging course starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers of the ancient world, and traces the history of philosophical speculation across the ages up to the present. Included along the way is special attention to the greatest Christian thinkers in history, including Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and many others.