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Plato’s and Aristotle’s Argument on Forms and Universals


Plato’s and Aristotle’s arguments have played an essential role in philosophy and metaphysics. Both philosophers’ arguments have played an immense role in giving definition and meaning to the existing reality. In addition, their rebuttal to each others’ opinions and theory has brought livelier and reality to the metaphysical explanation of concepts. For instance, their definition and arguments on forms and universals are substantially different; however, they imply the same ideas. Plato’s and Aristotle’s definitions of forms vary from each based on the value of existence, material, and change. Also, their explanation of forms is based on reality and non-reality in the illustrations that exist based on nature in the world. In essence, the definition of forms and universals according to both Plato and Aristotle is based on reality in fiction and non-fiction objects in society.

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In terms of philosophy, forms are the external descriptions or shapes of objects. However, Plato’s and Aristotle’s definitions of forms are theoretically different. For instance, in his explanation, Plato has stated that forms are examples of properties that exist in the universe. His description is not based on how the objects look but rather on how they contribute to the property and value. When referring to fiction and non-fiction characters, Platos describes them based on the value that they contribute (Aristotle 43). The significance of movies and TV shows is what Platonism defines as form. For an object to be classified as a form, it has to participate in the state. More significantly, the fictional characters performing in a movie are a form of fiction.

Furthermore, Plato’s forms are the abstract things that exist outside the world of reality. As such, forms cannot be exposed as they are known through our minds. According to Alvarado, the best example of the form is fiction movies (16). For instance, we know that they exist by the mind, but we cannot practically experience them. Thus, we can imagine their existence, but we can never get them physically. All the characters and venues in fiction movies are imaginary and do not exist. The nature of forms is the only reality description that can be attached to forms. In the movie, the director imagines locations and introduces characters that are all unreal. Besides, it is possible to change the content of the movie without altering the form. The major aim is to continuously keep the audience interested. In fictional terms, the experience received from watching a film is largely based on the aspect of fantasy. Many philosophers have argued against Plato’s concepts because they believe that some objects exist naturally. Besides, not everyone can view all the objects in the world as having the shapes of some things. Therefore, Plato has given value to many objects about their physical existence and forms.

On the contrary, Aristotle has contended that those forms do exist independently of the objects as every form defines something unique as compared to the other. For example, an object cannot exist without that form of description that has been awarded to it. Fiction movies cannot be fictional without imagination when defining and giving attributes to the terms. More notably, Aristotle has affirmed that if objects are not associated with that form description, they will acquire another meaning (Duncombe 39). The best example is if we drop the fictional character in the movies, we will have no imaginary world. In existential terms, objects and forms themselves are very distinctive aspects that cannot always remain connected to the description associated with them. Thus, Aristotle has not rejected or argued against Plato’s concept based on the form but rather on how it exists in the world.

Importantly, Aristotle has argued against Plato’s theory of forms through the introduction of substantial and unsubstantial forms. As mentioned in Aristotle’s explanation of forms, they have attributed to objects that give a permanent definition. The thinker has also introduced the idea of unsubstantial forms in the world of philosophy. The perfect description of unsubstantial forms is the accidental forms of objects. Aristotle has claimed that objects can lose their forms without being changed on their original descriptions. Fiction movies can change their form without altering the theme of fiction. The fact that they can vary based on the audience’s rating means that they are unsubstantial forms. Hence, this is contrary to Plato’s arguments that have a fixed imagination on the existence of forms (Alvarado 19). Furthermore, the objects gain fictional features if they have a key participation role to play in the world of fantasy. Therefore, Aristotle introduces differing points from Plato’s arguments by discussing certain facts on objects that do not create a full explanation of their existence.


Universals are sets of features that all ordinary objects possess in common. For instance, both fiction and nonfiction characters in movies have some things in common that define their existence in an instantiated state. The universal nature of forms can be identified in three major states: types, properties, and relations. However, the features are based on the observations made by the viewers. Plato and Aristotle have different theories that explain the universal state of matter and forms. These concepts are mainly based on the characteristics of forms that were described in their ideas on forms. Also, forms from both Aristotle’s and Plato’s views have raised many questions based on the existing objects in the world of reality and the imaginary world, for example, how forms are created, are there any similarities, and how they relate to reality (Duncombe 42). The theories have also carried different meanings depending on the mindset of the audience, consequently representing the difference in how the world relates reality to the forms of objects.

In his definition of universals, Aristotle has argued that matter and form have similarities that exist in the common structure. The fact that both fiction and non-fiction worlds can be exciting or boring depending on the audience means that they exist in a universal state. Both dimensions can bring to the surface different themes; however, they will feature both stories (Waldron 18). Furthermore, considering the concept of TV shows and movies, there exists a difference between the two, although both have characters and develop the same idea related to their common characteristics. Hence, Aristotle has described the objects based on their ordinary forms.

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When illustrating the universal existence of objects, several critical questions arise based on Aristotle’s illustration, namely if universal forms exist, where they exist, and how knowledge can be obtained from them? Based on the philosopher’s theory of ordinary forms’ universal existence, forms exist if they are instantiated. Also, they exist where they are represented in the actual form. The universal nature of ordinary objects exists in identical instances (Aristotle 22). When comparing ordinary objects, they must be the same. For example, we cannot compare movies and plants’ ordinary characteristics because their instances are not identical. As a result, the theory of universal forms by Aristotle has been applied to explain and illustrate universal forms.

Plato has refuted Aristotle’s argument on the existence of universal forms. The philosopher argues that the ideal form of things is the same as their world of matter. For example, Plato adhered to realistic reasoning in determining the universal nature of ordinary objects. Besides, the thinker has structured his argument that it does not collide with the emphasis of the mental existence of the world of the classification of ordinary objects (Duncombe 42). As such, the primary aim of the universal theory of ordinary objects is the definition of general features and not to classify objects as general as per Aristotle’s argument. For example, movies exist in different forms, which means they can assume the universal form and have similarities. In his description of forms, Plato contends that the world of forms and matter are substantially interdependent.

Platonism introduces an interpretation of the idea of universal forms as a mathematical theory. The features or descriptions of fiction and non-fiction movies have many different forms that do not attribute to a universal state in the world of space and time. As such, Plato’s philosophy does not oppose the theory of universal forms but rather gives a different view based on his explanation of forms. In terms of Platonism, forms exist differently and independently form their object of description (Alvarado 21). The theory of universal forms can only be applied in the world of mathematics and not in philosophy. More significantly, comparing the idea of films and TV shows through universal forms does not represent the expected difference. The nature of forms raises a lot of questions on the theory of universal forms. Therefore, it is essential to consider the fact that ideal forms and real objects exist.

Plato’s and Aristotle’s arguments have played an essential role in philosophy, regardless of the difference in their theories. For instance, through the nature of their concepts, the audience can understand the significance of philosophy in nature and the state of universal forms. Therefore, their argument’s central aim is to reflect the differing views that exist in the real world.


In summary, the fact that forms and a universal explanation of forms exist cannot be ignored. More significantly, the role that Aristotle and Plato have played in defining the different states of ordinary objects worldwide cannot be overestimated. Research has affirmed that nature exists in various forms from average items. Thus, the theories of forms and universal mainly depend on the nature of the audience’s facts. As such, both philosophers have covered a broad description of the terms. However, Aristotle’s definition of universal forms emphasized the relationship to reality with the evidence from fiction and nonfiction, which relates to TV shows and movies. Therefore, in comparing Plato’s and Aristotle’s theories, the latter’s reasoning has a more significant influence on the explanation of the nature of forms and universal states.

Works Cited

Alvarado, José T. A Metaphysics of Platonic Universals and their Instantiations: Shadow of Universals. Springer, 2020.

Aristotle, G. Metaphysics. Hackett Publishing Company, 2016.

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Duncombe, Matthew. Ancient Relativity. Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, and Sceptics. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Waldron, Dara. New Nonfiction Film: Art, Poetics, and Documentary Theory. Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

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