Free The Problem Of The One And Many Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Philosophy, World, Education, Theory, Knowledge, Space, Ethics, Truth

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/17

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The problem of the one and many refers to one of the major existential dilemmas of philosophy. It is the quest for the answer to the question about the major elements which control the world. The problem of the One and Many is the question of whether the world is governed by a single entity which is the supreme power or whether there are various elements and powers which control the world. The question has various other questions attached to them which have been a serious issue of concern for philosophers (Matthews and Cohen). The first question that rises out of this is whether the ONE power which in fact does control the universe ominous enough to deal with every being’s problems? If that is so then it means that all other beings become subservient to that higher being and its wishes. In this case, it would mean that the one, unified power supersedes the will and the desires of the various individuals. If however, MANY prevail, then the question remains whether they are worthy of the power that they hold and whether all of them are worthy of the power that they have. This again poses a threat to those which are not as superior because it then means that their will is ignored for the will of the ruling class and eventually lead to the prevalence of anarchy. This problem also concerns the major monotheistic and polytheistic religions of the world. This is primarily so because then the ultimate power is questioned in terms of whether it is one God or Many? But those who are believers of any religion, state that for them it is not the question of One and Many. For these believers, the questions rises that whether one God is true or there are many which control the universe with their various powers. The problem of the One and Many is not and should not only remain a problem for thinkers, it is actually a concern of existence that human individuals must have if they choose to reflect on their lives. This is a concern which should make us reflective of our origins and the purpose of our beings and all human beings should at some point in their lives reflect upon this. That is the main reason why this issue has been a dilemma for philosophers and thinkers.
Anaxagoras was one of the first Pre-Socratics to try and solve the issue of the One and Many. He tried to explain this by exploring the issue of the basic polarity of opposites. According to this explanation, the hot and cold elements of the Earth combine to form the basis of the elements which govern the Earth. However, the only two plausible solutions were presented by Heraclitus and Parmenides. Heraclitus is of the view that there is actually no dilemma to begin with and that question has a very simple answer. He suggested that the Earth began with various forces which were plural in nature. These pluralities over time kept interchanging with each other to fulfill the various elemental purposes. However, he also says that due to their collusive natures and the fact that they thrive on each other, these powers are often unified with one another as well. Parmenides however states that the pluralists are wrong in their belief for the need of a physis. He states that the world since the beginning of time has been unified. Where the other thinkers believe that the four elements of nature are the basis of the universe, he does not agree.

The Theory of Recollection

The Platonic Theory of Recollection or Anamnesis, is the theory by Plato which states that we humans have souls which possess knowledge. He is of the view that all humans are born with all the knowledge of the world and that this knowledge is embedded into their souls. He explains the theory by saying that there is innate knowledge which humans have and which allows us to process all knowledge that we gain in our lives (Scott). The theory in general tries to state that there is a soul and there is a body of every being. All knowledge which the person gains is knowledge which has already been gained by the soul of the body. The soul is the true reality whereas the body is just a vessel and any information that the body gains, is knowledge which the soul already has gained and the body is just merely recollecting it as it gains it. All the senses combine together with the soul in order to help it process the knowledge that it gains. This theory was put forward as one of the theories for believing that they soul is immortal. For Plato the concept of the soul is very important and has been the basis of many of his theories. Hence, this argument also reaffirms his theory of the soul which is why he suggests it. Plato by this theory also tackles the concept of reality. For him, the concept of reality is merely a matter of relativity. He believes that all that is real for an individual is something which he has already experienced and is merely recollecting elements from the past.
It could be said that Plato is trying to reaffirm the concept of the soul with this theory. There are other purposes Plato could be trying to accomplish with it. One can also say that Plato wants to open the doors of knowledge for humans and hence put forward this theory which would make them try and comprehend knowledge without any mental constraints or pre-conceived notions. Plato achieves this by the story of Socrates and Meno’s slave. In this story, there is a slave which is presented with a series of logical, theorems by Socrates and is asked to answer them. The slave reaches plausible conclusions for each and hence Socrates says that the slave was able to do so because of his prior knowledge which he just is merely remembering. Plato’s theory to some extent holds truth because all humans are in fact born with innate knowledge. We as humans are born with various abilities which we use during our lives. These abilities become tools which help us during our lives to process the knowledge which we gain as life passes by. We can also say that by this Plato is trying to emphasize the importance of true knowledge. He is trying to tell humans that knowledge is universal and eternal. It has many forms and these forms are interchangeable which is why it is imperative we must try to gain the forms we already know and process them into higher levels of understanding.

Correspondence Theory of Truth

The Correspondence Theory of Truth best explains truth in its essence. The theory states that any statement is true or false depending on its relativity to the world. This is why it best explains the essence of truth. The world, situations, dynamics with people all have effects on the incidents and the statements which arise out of them. The simple matter of fact is that these statements have been effected by factors which are all relative to the world hence we cannot determine their falsity or their truth without keeping all the factors in mind. This theory has been stated and put forth and supported by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle (David).
The reason that this hypothesis is the best clarification of truth is the way that it doesn't overlook the effects of the different components of the world on it. It doesn't disconnect them from reality, which is the thing that must be carried out so as to achieve larger amounts of comprehension. This is basic if people wish to accomplish higher information and would prefer not to confine their psyches with impediments that hard certainties put on the attempt for learning. This does not imply that truths are not imperative, it simply just implies that one must have acknowledgement to the thought that these certainties could conceivably be as set as they appear. These truths can be changed if the need be for the mission of learning.

Aristotle stated that:

“To say that [either] that which is, is not or that which is not is, is a falsehood; and to say that that which is, is and that which is not is not, is true”
This aptly explains the Theory of Correspondence and its meaning in broad strokes because for anything to be deemed true or false in its finality is incomplete unless we understand and keep in mind all the circumstances which affect it as well. This can be explained further by a simple example. Any statement that an individual makes can be deemed false if even one component of that statement differs from reality. Hence, the truth is vastly effected by the world and its physical factors in order to be considered the truth. This explanation has also been given by Bertrand Russell to explain this theory more clearly. Other thinkers have deemed language, semantics to effect the truth and falsity of a statement.
The reason that this theory is the best explanation of truth is the fact that it does not ignore the impacts of the various elements of the world on it. It does not isolate them from the truth, which is what must be done in order to reach higher levels of understanding. This is imperative if humans wish to attain higher knowledge and do not want to restrict their minds with limitations that hard facts put on the endeavor for knowledge. This does not mean that facts are not important, it just merely means that one must have acceptance to the notion that these facts may or may not be as set as they seem. These facts can be changed if the need be for the quest of knowledge.


Metaphysics is the division of philosophy which deals with the nature of the existence and being. This field is dedicated to the understanding of all the elements which are the basis of the world. This requires them to understand the dynamics of objects, forces, and powers which are prevalent in the world. They also try to understand the basis of time and space because these two elements are in direct and close relation with the existence of the world. The biggest concern of this field however is the purpose of existence whether the universe or the human beings. There various subdivisions of this branch which include ontology, cosmology and epistemology (van Inwagen and Sullivan).
It is clear that metaphysics tries to answer the relationships and the elements between different questions and space and time. A few scholars are of the conclusion that the properties are theoretical and these properties are not applicable to time and space. While, others differ that the properties are all inclusive and hold valid for all items. The third focal issue that scholars attempt to manage the concerns of cosmology and cosmogony. These subdivisions attempt to manage the inceptions of the universe and the motion of space and time.
Aristotle’s work and his writings are believed to be the foundation of this branch of study. This is mostly due to the fact that his work questioned the very basis of the world and the elements which constituted it. Not only these elements but he also sought to question the powers which govern this world. Metaphysics also strives to do the same and seeks the answers which were first brought up by him.
There are various questions which metaphysics seeks to answer. The first of these questions is the question of existence, being and basis of reality. This question strives to answer the basis of everything and why it exists. Various philosophers have asked this one question in the past and have questioned the existence of the powers which govern this world. This has also been the basis of the problem of the One and Many. The problem of the One and Many has in turn led thinkers to ponder over the question of the Supreme Being and the various religions and their beliefs. These thoughts gave way to more principles of study such as philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. Another major question which this field deals with is the origin of objects, their purpose and properties. This question seeks to answer the relationship and the dynamics between various objects and space and time. Some philosophers are of the opinion that the properties are abstract and these properties are not relevant to time and space. Whereas, others disagree that the properties are universal and hold true for all objects. The third central issue that thinkers try to deal with the concerns of cosmology and cosmogony. These subdivisions try to deal with the origins of the universe and the dynamics of space and time. What exactly is the world composed of and what are the elements which constitute it? What exactly is the purpose of the universe and why has it been brought into being? These are all the questions which this particular subdivision tries to deals with and find the solutions to.


David, Marian. 'The Correspondence Theory Of Truth'. N.p., 2002. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
Matthews, Gareth, and Marc Cohen. 'The One And The Many'. The Review of Metaphysics 21.4 (1968): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
Scott, Dominic. Recollection And Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.
van Inwagen, Peter, and Meghan Sullivan. 'Metaphysics'. N.p., 2007. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
Weatherson, Brian. 'The Problem Of The Many'. N.p., 2003. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

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