If memory serves me right, no copies we have of Plato's writing include a clear statement of what the Form of the Good is supposed to be. We have descriptions like "greater in dignity and might" than even Truth or Knowledge or Existence. This ultimate Form is to the other Forms what the sun is to the rest of the solar system.

But beyond that...

I think G. E. Moore thought that goodness being irreducible was what Plato had in mind. The only other interpretation I've found was that some kind of unity is in question, with Plato's mathematical themes crystallized in that unity.

Other interpretations I've thought of:

Essential vs. effective mysterianism: either being mysterious is intrinsic to the FoG, like it's the Form of Mystery; or it's just difficult to describe and articulate the FoG.

Theism: Plato intuited a theistic model but couldn't understand his own intuition, so ended up with a vaguely transtheistic model. I've never seen this stated as such but the thesis seems implicit in some Christian readings of Platonism with which I am familiar (e.g. Anselm).

The Form of the City: resonates with the unitarianism model as well as Socrates' comparison of virtue and political stability: the unity is the stability. The knowledge of the FoG is symbolized not by specific reasons in THE REPUBLIC but the text as a whole: the FoG is the Form of the Republic.

Saudade: sometimes described as "premature nostalgia," saudade is an emotion that brings to mind Platonic anamnesis (abstract/spiritual deja vu, even). The singularity of the emotion resembles an indecomposable Moorean conceptual intuition, and its erotetic aspect mirrors essential mysterianism.

What other interpretations of the FoG are on offer, or is this list (close to) complete?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.