CriticaLink | Plato: Phaedrus | Terms
In Plato's metaphysics, the Forms are the eternal, perfect archetypes of all phenomena in the physical world. Only these Forms are truly real, and only knowledge of the Forms is true knowledge. The Forms transcend phenemona and can be grasped only by the intellect--in some translations of Plato's texts, the Forms are called "the Ideas". Plato's philosophy is idealist because it gives primacy to these non-physical, transcendent, "ideal" Forms.
Plato's epistemology maintains that knowledge of the Forms is available to human beings to a limited extent through the process of anamnesis, a "recollection" of the vision of the Forms the soul once glimpsed on its circuit through heaven during metempsychosis.