From Plato to New York an ideal society, the arts must be strictly controlled. are copies. Amore e Organista). These are questions that philosophers of art will long continue to ask. Plato’s aesthetics rejects above all the traditional views of artists as conduits for the divine mind or otherwise as messengers of truths they understand not themselves. Yet  his writings on aesthetics and art raise numerous questions that remain of fundamental importance for philosophy of art: To what degree is all art political? Reiter) group. But many ancient, medieval, and modern artists and aestheticians have found According to this theory the artist, perhaps by divine inspiration, makes a All rights reserved. For the idea of beauty itself is not able to be appropriated through the senses or forms of sensibility, but only through the intellect (Symposium 211d). imitation theory. Self control, especially control However, much of the work of Homer and the classic poets does not describe good men of old. day. the images and myths purveyed by the ads and the shows as the way things are. and Mondrian. who recites Homer's poetry brilliantly but is no good at reciting anything else. Early thinking about geometric ratios was partly inspired by noticing the series than is ordinary experience. and there are some which combine the ideas of inspiration and imitation, showing dark, and be blinded by the fire, but then come to realize that the shadows His implied view in his writings on art is that imagination is subservient to reason. sarcasm. artist's work. century that the idea of art as imitation began to fade from western aesthetics, Socrates is questioning a poet named Ion, VII of his Republic. The arts, he thought, are in a good way, he would not have recommended music and stories for the young. are also more real than physical objects. In the Republic, Plato's other … Can there be such a thing as … way out the mouth of the cave and into the sunlight. Most important, don't artists show Plato, whose understanding of art is limited, imagines art fundamentally as representational — indeed as representations of representations or copies of copies. It is as if a shadow cast a further shadow. more to Plato�s philosophy than this; but this is enough background to begin part of the education of young citizens in his ideal republic, but should be actors carrying puppets on sticks. The mind or soul belongs to the Ideal The idea was still words, a work of art is a copy of a copy of a Form. and the world? Doesn't their creative of its reason. That life is the life of the mind, the life of In the “ancient quarrel between the poetry and philosophy” (Republic 607b), Plato is one of philosophy’s strongest spokespeople. Plato — Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Plato — Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Rather, when he recites Homer, he must be inspired by a god. it will always fade. truth, in his view. from truth and toward illusion. the library, or check out the online Encyclopedia For this reason, as well as because of its power to stir the emotions, art is dangerous. very strong in the Renaissance, when Vasari, in his Lives of the Painters, Many particular things can have the form of a circle, The changing world around us is in Plato’s view itself merely a representation of the true world of the unchanging forms. as inspired revealer of ideal essences fits well with the spirit of Plato's later modification of Platonic teachings that flourished in the centuries just famous summary of Plato's philosophy is the allegory of the Cave, found in Book So the best human life is one that strives to understand and to imitate the is too much to hope for in this corrupt world. or of justice, or beauty. and at worst a dangerous delusion. of the Cave into its obvious 21st century version, and one answer begs to be Real". Plato had two theories of art. With an artist like In many cases people will imitate what they see in art. Does life imitate art? listen to or read. Art is powerful, On the gives a compelling picture of the ascent from sexual love, to the aesthetic The same spirit Late classical sculpture presents gods and heroes was much impressed with the theories of Pythagoras, and his number mysticism. the arts he so obviously loved and had been trained in. (But for a particularly powerful, detailed description of just how they do so, is one of the problems that elicited his proposals for severe censorship of For this reason, throughout his account in the Republic he especially characterizes its as a threat to the ideal polity that is to be controlled. On this theory, works of art are at best entertainment, In spite of this, he agreed with modern culture generally is a very strong one, and this includes a strong influence The answer is that he saw both potentials. the Philosopher (literally, the lover of wisdom). But even with such work it leaves a lot out. Plato’s Views on Art Art can never truly represent reality, for life itself, of which art is merely a copy, does not represent reality, according to Plato. and painting, statuary and music often served similar ends. as ideal bodies, built in perfect proportions, and filled with a cool repose, For Plato, these Forms are perfect Ideals, but they Our world “…as we experience it, is an illusion, a collection of mere appearances like reflections in a mirror or shadows on a wall.” (Quoted by Rosalind Hursthouse in “Truth and Representation,” Philosphical Aesthetics.) and he wanted music and painting severely censored. your personal daimon or inspiring spirit. As Plato emphasizes in the Protagoras, the youth “are given the works of good poets to read at their desks and have to learn them by heart, works that contain numerous exhortations, many passages describing in glowing terms good men of old, so that the child is inspired to imitate them and become like them” (Protagoras 325-326a). The idea of the artist Through neoplatonism, Art then is rather impoverished. Is censorship of art ever warranted? it. Plato had talked about Mimesis in both the book Ion and The Republic. picture of something, and that an artist is someone who can make a picture eventual enslavement by a tyrant. Are those images and myths powerful? one. Plato’s view of art is not entirely negative, but it is entirely cautionary. The classical ideal up our emotions. It wasn't until late in the nineteenth people about the free exchange of ideas. cast by the puppets. ones, is Titian's "Venus and Music" (Venere, have worried about the power of the arts to influence, and potentially to corrupt. powerful shapers of character. Why would Plato have seen character be tested by exposing them to depictions of evil, and to the more The specific objects of this changing world merely participate in the universal forms — they are copies. Here is where Plato's two theories come in. with the arts. Plato's influence on western the word "music" derives from the Greek Muses, the demigods who inspired an promiscuous modes of music.). He was also a fine literary stylist and a great story-teller; in from the Renaissance which depict a genius of this sort, or an inspiring muse; Plato (For more on Plato�s philosophy, visit Art, mostly as represented by poetry, is closer to a greatest danger than any other phenomenon Plato speaks of, while beauty is close to a greatest good. Plato's other theory is hinted at in as if they inhabited a perfect and changeless divine world. us the essence of things, and reveal truths that we wouldn't otherwise see?