The to emulate the Good, which is inherently connected

The theory of Forms make up Plato’s central idea of what is held above the shadow of reality we inhabit. It is depicted mainly in the Phaedo and Book VII of the Republic following distinctions made by Socrates between the physical world of our senses and the intelligible realm where the soul truly exists and originates from. The sensible world we perceive is explained to be a constructed simulation of non-physical reality, filled with things named in accordance to the Forms because they behold, by varying degrees, the pure characteristics of Beauty, Justice and the Good. The Forms are unchanging and universal objects dependant on the highest ideal, the Good, for their existence. As such, our world manifests itself in shadows of the Forms that only exist by the “light of the sun” as exemplified in Book VII, where cave dwellers believe the shadows on the walls to be real objects. When one man finally exits the cave, Socrates states “He would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the upper world outside of the cave. First he would find it easier to look at the shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later at the objects themselves.” In the light these shadows are revealed as the Forms themselves, and the shadows disappear. For Plato, what exists must be universal. The function of humans and our senses is therefore to learn from the radiance of the intelligible realm as much as possible by living virtuously to emulate the Good, which is inherently connected with the Forms and is the soul’s method of attaining them for our senses. Imagine the Forms as the number of students that attend a class. Each student as part of it, but no one is the class entirely. Rather, they perform various actions like taking notes and asking questions by virtue of their participating in the class. So are the Forms, using this analogy, not what we are, but abstract objects we utilize to do things in our world. Before our eyes are the varying degrees of many forms, universal, immaterial and apart from sense, despite being inferred from sense data. Only once you participate in the Forms can the highest reality can be abstracted, linking the ultimate truth to our temporal, material sense world, which does not to exist.A brief read of David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature casts an opposing light on the Forms. In it he invokes George Berkeley’s assertion that “all general ideas are nothing but particular ones, annexed to a certain term, which gives them a more extensive signification and makes them all recall upon occasion other individuals similar to them.” Hume praised this explanation but further clarified how a general term could stand for specific experiences, that the idea itself is a particular (not a universal) and that its individuality is a particular object: when we form an idea, “the image in the mind is only that of a particular object.” He also follows John Locke’s views on knowledge that uses reason to organize one’s sensory experience before universal truths, which indicates Hume’s belief that no  knowledge could be present prior to our experience. So in denying the existence of innate, abstract ideas, dividing the sources of our ideas into two categories: those derived from sensation through the use of our sense organs and those derived from reflection through our own mental processes. Hume terms sensations to be impressions, while he reserves the word ideas for the results of mental processes such as imagination and memory. He then divides ideas themselves as either simple or complex. Hume notes that if we can’t reduce a simple idea to a simple impression this way then the concept is probably fallacious, including the Forms, because the intelligible realm of knowledge precedes experience. Deductions made from sensory impressions cannot be seen as the source of true knowledge. Whether souls within the sensible world could attain the Forms by observation is insoluble via inductive inference for Hume. It identifies Plato’s use of the Socratic method to attain the Forms beyond our senses as an inconsistent relation of ideas, unlike empirically verifiable statements in mathematics. These truths are necessary because they are unshaken by scrutiny, retaining value. The truth value of the Forms rests on definitions of language,  and not on the sensible world. For Hume then the Forms  are not complex ideas. Therefore the relations of ideas cannot be used to prove matters of knowledge.Despite the apparent hostility empiricism has to abstract and metaphysical ideas, Hume does not deem all abstract ideas worthless. He argues that the mind naturally forms associations between ideas from impressions. In the mind, a general term becomes associated with further specific instances of those similar impressions and comes to stand for all of them. This process explains why we can visualize particular events that we may not have actually experienced, based on their association with those events that we have actually experienced. To him it would be utterly impossible to conceive of any quantity or quality without forming a precise notion of its degrees and by showing that though the capacity of the mind cannot be infinite, we can at once pursue a notion of all possible degrees of quality and quantity that will serve its function.The key to understanding Hume’s compatibility with Platonic epistemology will have to rely on a simple idea: that our souls are born into our bodies with innate knowledge of the Forms. Even seemingly untaught instances of knowledge of absolutes like geometrical shapes and equations necessarily demonstrate their pre-existence. However, the burden of recalling our knowledge of the Forms falls again on our sensory experience under such an idea, since the soul is unable to escape while the body is still breathing and can only hope to imitate the Forms. In the Phaedo, Plato uses the form of Equality to revive his argument. While we can see the manner in which a stick may be equal to another stick in number, we have never in this current life experienced equality independently of other objects. Furthermore, because there are in this life no instances of complete equality, even among the most similar physical objects, the only feasible source for this knowledge comes from knowledge of the Forms prior to physical experience.The most important step in Hume’s philosophy is to be found in his endeavor to discover what is given to our consciousness through our senses. According to Hume, we cannot discover such a thing as unity, such relation as the liner, mechanical causality, etc., in those impressions or sensible things. It is not necessary to assume such a thing as unity beyond what is immediately given to us in our experience. As a philosopher, Hume believed that he must be satisfied with what is really known and it was his task that all those universals such as substance, unity, identity, relation, causality, are to be explained by some psychological law. Hume proposes to explain “all effects from the simplest and fewest causes.” He predicts that it is likely that one “principle of the mind depends on another” and that this principle may in turn be brought under another principle even “more general and universal.” But he emphasizes that while he will try to find the most general principles, rendering them as universal as possible, all of his explanations must be based completely on experience. For Plato, the only source of knowledge is the Forms; all things experienced in the physical world constitute opinion. If one considers the Forms in terms of Hume’s simple ideas, he appears to be logically consistent. Just as Hume’s complex ideas are formed on the basis of our knowledge of simple ideas, so too is the ordering and comprehension of our experience of the physical world dependent on our preexisting knowledge of the Forms for Plato. The similarity of the two bases for knowledge shows an adequate agreement between the two epistemologies to deem Plato at least compatible with Hume’s requirements for empiricism. The difficult part of reconciling a middle ground between them is in determining whether experience of the Forms can be considered sensory observation to a strict empiricist. Hume then considers that a blind individual would have no basis for assuming the reality of the visual world. If all the world were in this condition and one individual were to gain or recover the ability to see, he would not object the individual’s account of reality through the senses. This argument can now be applied to the ability of the soul to perceive the Forms. Thus empirical enquiry cannot unequivocally deny the validity of prenatal sensory information if it can be deemed to be sense data. Further, because Hume does not require other individuals necessary in determining the true value of knowledge, they have no bearing on whether intuition of the Forms can be trusted. Therefore, an individual who becomes aware of their prior experience of the Forms can, for Hume, feel assured of the empirical validity of their observations.At direct connection between of Platonic epistemology and Hume’s empiricism is grounded in the role of the highest Form, the Good, in influencing human reason. Socrates states in the Phaedo, “the objects of knowledge owe their being known to the Good, but their being is also due to it, although the Good is not being, but superior to it in rank and power.”  So it is through the Good that other things are knowable to us; this creates an inconsistency between Platonic and rationalist epistemology. For a rationalist, we are innately endowed with the faculties of reason to establish certain principles. For a Platonist, it is only when we experience the form of the Good firsthand that we are able to know any other knowledge, making all knowledge dependent on the Good. Now it seems no