No faith seems to directly accept the Forms, although I wondered if Catholics are more likely to agree with the idea of things in this World ( including thoughts) echoing a perfect and pleasurable version of themselves in Heaven? Just checking I'm in the right church! (I'm a Protestant Platonist)


2 Answers 2


It's not entirely clear that Catholics ought to favor the doctrine of forms to a greater extent than Protestants. The Cambridge Platonists, influential in mid seventeenth century English thought, were largely Protestants of the newly emerging, Anglican sort, or Latitudinarians. Take a look at Henry More. Certainly the Cambridge Platonists did follow a doctrine of forms, but how close that was to Plato's has often been disputed.

They raise the question, therefore, of which doctrine of forms you want to talk about. The doctrine of forms is pre-Christian, of course, although it became a major part of the early Catholic church's teaching. Remember, also, that it figured heavily in Arabic thought, and it was the cultures of Islam that largely inherited the knowledge of 5thC BC Athens, which were released into Western European hands in part as a result of the Spanish reconquista and the fall of Cordoba. The adoption of trans-mediterian standards of philosophical reasoning by the Catholic church (yes, noticeably Thomas Aquinas' grand work on integrating Aristotlelianism with Catholicism) may have helped the church speak to intelligent non-Chirstians. For an example, we need only look at the most famous Bishop of Hippo. There have been many different versions of this philosophical doctrine down the ages, and some would say the it carries right on to the Idealists, but each permutation is different, and often they live in different geographical locations.

I see, in general, no reason why Catholics should be more pre-disposed to the belief that conceptual unities are the foundation of physical phenomena (rather than vice versa), than Protestants. The great benefit of being a protestant, I suppose, is that if the Archbishop of your church disagrees with the doctrine of forms, you can find a different kind of protestant Archbishop. However, the last time I know of there being more than one Pope was when Barbarossa was storming Italy.

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    Jan 15, 2014 at 23:18

I'm probably not smart enough to answer this, but have you checked with St. Thomas Aquinas? I think that he (and the Church) teaches that incorruptible things are in and of themselves perfect and therefore not something that exists in perfection in Heaven.

Whatever it is that we see "through a mirror darkly" isn't the image of a perfect toaster or the perfect piece of cheese, but it might be a perfect soul.

So, no, I don't think you'd find yourself finding that particular doctrine accepted in Catholicism, although it sounds like a lot of fun to think about.

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