To what degree is Plato's 'The Forms' existant in Christian faith?

Plato’s theory suggests everything (every ‘thing’, idea, feeling, concept…anything at all that exists) has an archaetype, an existing perfected version of itself in Heaven. Obviously ‘evil’ does not exist in Heaven, but this is clearly not a problem if you see evil as the negation of good rather than a creative force in itself.

  1. If ‘ideas’ have heavenly versions then is God partly ‘pleasure itself’ or is this ridiculous, he cannot be an abstraction, in which case he is the creator of pleasure without ‘pleasure’ being a part of his substance…?
  2. ‘Dracula’ is a well loved book/fiction/idea. I would say (and many would agree) that to enjoy such a story is not sinful, nor is such a story sinful in itself. Logically it would appear to have as much ‘merit’ to be perfected in God’s being as anything else?
  3. If God is all these things (and many more things), does it follow that anything may have an ‘infinite’ quality if they are (all be it ‘small’) attributes of His endless being?

None of this is attempting to be controversial, by the way. I’m just putting things VERY plainly. The answers may be simply ‘no’ and ‘not likely!’ 'Whatever the answer, God is infinite good and Love. Amen.

You are going to get a much better response if you put philosophical questions in the philosophy forum.


I have to say I’m interested any responses there might be. My own uneducated answer would be something like “yes, but with things that may or may not turn out to be reservations.” Unfortunately, my attempts to write out my (perhaps) reservations have mostly resulted in me using the backspace key a lot, because I’m having a hard time saying what I want to intelligently (not that that usually stops me, but perhaps I’ll have something to add after -] starring at my wall for a couple hours/-] office hours). Which probably backs up Tim’s response somewhat.

If you do bring this up again in the philosophy forum, please post a link here. I do think it’s an interesting topic, and would like to see where it heads.

I agree that you will probably get more answers if you post this thread in the philosophy forum. I can try to give an answer but there are other posters in the philosophy forum that are more sophisticated and intelligent than I am :p.

I know you are not asking specifically for Catholic teaching, but most generic Christian teaching finds its roots in Catholicism in some way. I don’t think the Catholic Church officially subscribes to a philosophical tradition, but I think it definitely leans very heavily towards the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas who extensively developed Aristotle’s teachings for the Catholic faith. There were Catholic Platonists however, and I think St. Augustine was the most well known of the Catholic Platonists.

The Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition does not have Platonic forms, but a more moderate variant of it called “hylemorphic dualism.” Platonic forms definitely inspired Aristotle’s theories. So it’s not the case that pure archetypes of forms exist in heaven, but everything that exists has a form along with the matter than composes it. Forms generally do not exist in a pure state. Angels and demons are the exception to this rule because they are pure forms that lack matter. I think St. Thomas gets around this seemingly Platonist concept through his distinction between essence and existence. Angels and demons still have to assume the form of existence (an act of existing is what he calls it I think). So existence is the ultimate form which, if we drew a hierarchy of forms, would be the single, top root node. Only God possesses the form of existence in a pure state (because his essence is his existence).

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