One frequent appeal by determinists in the free will debate, involves invoking certain facts about neuroscience to deny efficacy to the conscious subject. In order to do this, one of the things the determinist must say, is that sense impulses are somehow processed unconsciously into a coherent whole, before they are presented to the ‘conscious’ subject as an ‘experience’, and that this processing (along with pre-conscious processing of decision-making activity), shows that we are entirely causally determined.
To recap and summarize, there are three different kinds of forms presented to us in the Parmenides, by Socrates: Relational: the subjective experience of qualities of things, relative to each other. For example, Bigness, Sameness, or Heaviness (and their oppositions: Smallness, Difference, or Lightness). Ontological: the model or exemplar of actual things. For example, Man, Animal, Fire, and Water (but, inexplicably, not things like sticks and stones and mud and sealing wax).
In this installment of the series on Plato’s Forms, we’ll have a brief look at the major conceptions of the theory, some of the key differences, and dig deep into the one formulation Plato seems to have favored the most. For those of you looking for a thorough discussion of Parmenides’ refutations, you’ll have to wait until the last installment. In keeping with the principle of the first post, the idea here is to just try to understand the theory itself, and the problem it was trying to solve, before we make any move to object to it.
It has become a commonplace habit in contemporary quasi-philosophical circles, to roll one’s eyes and snicker, or to sneer and sniff, whenever the mention of Plato’s Forms happens to sour the air. It seems to be taken for granted these days, that the Forms “just aren’t done” anymore, that somehow they’ve been shown to be disreputable or false, and that no one need any longer to take the idea seriously (least of all, professional philosophers).
Moral maxims are rules governing actions, or commands to act in certain ways considered morally correct. Some of the most well known maxims are those that come to us by way of religious tradition. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” are paradigm examples. Kant insists that his Categorical Imperative is the best means by which to test the maxims, for whether they correctly guide us to right action and away from wrong action.