A defence of the forms : revisiting the third man argument in Plato's Parmenides

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Massey University
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No abstract. The following is taken from the introduction: The Theory of Forms is one of the most familiar works in Philosophy and it is attributed to the ancient Greek Philosopher, Plato. This theory essentially concerns perfect and unchanging things called Forms that exist in a world outside our sensible world. Forms are also said to be the causes of sensible things in our world. While sensible things change continuously, Forms are unchanging. So, only the Forms are capable of being known because they are unchanging. Based on that proposition, we may be justified in thinking that the world of Forms is the essence of Plato’s overall philosophical system. However, one significant problem for this theory – interestingly raised by Plato himself in his dialogue Parmenides – has become known as the Third Man Argument (TMA); rather than reflecting Plato’s puzzlement with his own Theory of Forms, as it is sometimes argued to do, I will argue that the TMA in Parmenides in fact records Socrates’ response to a rather mocking interpretation of his theory, which serves to clarify the key metaphysical commitments of the theory.
Plato, Parmenides, Third Man Argument (TMA), Form (Philosophy), Theory of Forms