Plato spoke of forms
(sometimes capitalized: The Forms
) in formulating his solution
to the problem of universals
. The forms, according to Plato
, are roughly speaking archetypes
representations of the many types
and properties (that is, of universals
) of things we see all around us. There is, therefore, on Plato's view, forms of dogs, of human beings, of mountains, as well as of the color red, of courage, of love, and of goodness. Indeed, for Plato, God
is identical to the Form of the Good
The forms are supposed to exist in what is, for Plato, not inaccurately described as a "Platonic heaven." For Plato, when human beings die, their souls achieve some sort of reunion with the forms--reunion, because souls originate in and even, in life, have some recollection of, this Platonic heaven.
Form and idea are terms used to translate the Greek word eidos (plural eide). "Idea" is a misleading translation, because for Plato, the eide do not exist in the mind.
For more information about Plato's theory of universals (forms, ideas), see Platonic realism. See also the divided line of Plato.