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American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy

Volume 2, 2016

Teaching Plato

Robin Weiss
Pages 117-142

Definitions vs. Ideals
Beyond the Standard Interpretation of the Forms

Traditional pedagogical approaches to the Platonic forms pose problems that can be best addressed by presenting students two rival interpretations: one that understands the forms in terms of definitions, and another in terms of ideals. The second, if not the first interpretation, models, for students of even a relativistic stripe, how one can conceive the existence of thought-objects about which no consensus exists. It also serves to illustrate how knowledge of such thought-objects may be attained nonetheless. This approach is to be preferred, therefore, to traditional approaches that tend to reinforce, rather than counteract, relativism in students.

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