A Horse Is a Horse, of Course, of Course, but What about Horseness?

In Debra Nails & Harold Tarrant (eds.), Second Sailing: Alternative Perspectives on Plato. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica. pp. 307–324 (2015)
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Plato is commonly considered a metaphysical dualist conceiving of a world of Forms separate from the world of particulars in which we live. This paper explores the motivation for postulating that second world as opposed to making do with the one we have. The main objective is to demonstrate that and how everything, Forms and all, can instead fit into the same world. The approach is exploratory, as there can be no proof in the standard sense. The debate between explaining Plato’s ontology with a single world and requiring a two-world model to make sense of the same thing is typically about scouring the Platonic corpus for evidence and turning to Aristotle for help where we need it. The aim here is to dig deeper than what either of them, or anyone else, has said or implied about the number or worlds, searching instead for any insight that might be gained from the way Forms are supposed to exist versus what we ourselves might understand by existence. Although the paper is, at its most basic level, about the existence of the Forms, the intention is not to prove that they exist, nor to evaluate the proofs and objections already on record, but to consider how they might exist and what follows if they do. Dialogue toward consensus on why we think the Forms exist, and why we think they do not, could perhaps provide a smoother “second sailing” in waters where we have been unable to agree whether they do and where they would if they did.

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Necip Fikri Alican
Washington University in St. Louis (PhD)


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