Is there an absolute truth which exists? What evidence do we have for making statements about the nature of reality that goes beyond our own sensory perception?
One of Plato’s best known ideas has to do with truth. In Plato’s view, there was an absolute truth that existed, somewhere, in some sense, in reality. He thought that truth existed, but he wasn’t sure whether or not that people would ever be able to find and discern this truth.
The idea of true forms pervaded much of Plato’s thoughts on the nature of reality. To him, pure forms were the perfect idealized form of concepts that we were familiar with. He came about this concept by considering how we were able to recognize that a tree is a tree when no two trees look alike. Plato felt that because people were able to recognize that a tree was a tree and not a bush, no matter how different looking one tree was from the next, it was because we as people are in some way aware of the perfect form of the tree that exists somewhere in the universe in some form.
This idea of reality is comforting because it grounds us in the idea of absolute truth, that there is only one version of reality and we are not subject to a world in which multiple versions of a single event all contain validity. The problem with Plato’s concept of the true forms is that there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Plato wanted reality to maintain certain standards, and the true forms enabled him to state that these standards existed. We can recognize trees because we have been told what a tree looks like and because they have similar characteristics. But what about a tree that has characteristics of a bush? Is it more like a tree or more like a bush? Is it some sort of amalgamation of the true forms of a tree and a bush, or is there a true form that is itself a combination of the two forms?