[MD] Good and Truth in Platonic system

david buchanan dmbuchanan at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 11 20:57:02 PST 2012

John McConnell said:
Many thanks to David Harding for this reference in ZMM.  That was exactly what I needed.  Paul Turner also sent me a quote from Plato that demonstrated this subordination of Good to Truth.  What I think I see from both references is that Good is the highest Form, but Truth is not a Form as such, but the result of the dialectic process.  Can anyone confirm the correctness of that understanding?  Is the Symposium the best dialogue to read for this subject?  Finally, what is the difference between a Form and an Idea?  Thanks to all who respond.

dmb says:
I think that's right, John. For Plato, Truth isn't a Form but rather a matter of grasping the Forms. The lover of wisdom was one who sought these Forms and grasping them was imagined to be a very difficult, quasi-spiritual thing to achieve. In the same way that more modern truth theories say ideas are true to the extent that they correspond to objective reality, Plato's Truth corresponds to the eternal Forms. The Forms were something like the perfect ideal or the ultimate Truth. Pirsig's pragmatic truths are neither of those things. The don't correspond to anything or any thing, although they do have to agree with experience.
As far as I know, the best place to find a discussion of the Form of the Good is in The Republic. There Socrates explains it through three different analogies, with the allegory of the cave being the most famous.


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