Plato’s criticisms of the practice of painting are particularly noteworthy. While he does not explicitly condemn it, he does seem to be averse to such innovations as realism and illusionism. These techniques, which are often used to create lifelike images, were already widely used in Greece by the time of Plato. Some art historians refer to this period as the Greek Revolution. Despite these criticisms, Plato’s theory of art still retains relevance today.
Table of Contents
Table of contents
Plato’s conception of mimesis
This essay explores Plato’s conception of mimesis, a concept that has been central to modern psychology. Plato is considered an intellectual forerunner of Girard’s mimetic theory and the founder of the modern notion of psychological mimesis. Plato’s Republic can be interpreted in conjunction with Girard’s ideas as a ground-breaking study of the relationship between mimetic theory and psychosocial structures.
In addition to evaluating how mimesis affects the education of guardians and citizens, Plato also examines how art can influence the mind of citizens. While many philosophers view art as an abstract and deconstructive force, Plato gave it first place in the hierarchy of art. In this case, art imitates philosophy, which deals with the illusion of reality, while poetry is more concerned with human behavior.
While many critics have criticized Plato’s work, it is a surprisingly popular view today. Many people are fans of literary art, but Plato’s dramatic dialogues and didactic volumes demonstrate an uncommon literary ability. Plato’s notion of mimesis, however, was quite different. Mimetic art – or art that imitates a real object – is degenerate. For example, a painting of a couch is not a couch but an image that is two or three times less than the real thing.
As Plato argues that knowledge is neutral, he disavowed the distinction between philosopher and craftsman. In 601c and ff, he distinguishes between a philosopher and a craftsman. He further asserts that no person is more knowledgeable than another, but that knowledge is based on a foundation of lies. In other words, Plato believes that a philosopher is not more knowledgeable than a craftsman, which is the most crucial aspect of mimesis.
While the notion of mimesis is a central feature of Plato’s philosophy, its origins and nature have been debated in Western culture for centuries. Whether or not mimesis is representational or non-representational, the issue has been of great interest in contemporary debates on performance. The term “theatrical mimesis” is an example of a non-representational form of mimesis. In anthropology, imitation is associated with contagion or with intoxication. Moreover, Plato’s Ion is situated at a critical point between literature and philosophy, hovering between the intoxicating powers of performance and the quest for critical reasoning.
In contrast to this, Plato’s conception of theatre rejects the idea of mimesis as a self-referential activity. In fact, Plato believes that theatre is evil and should be replaced by a choreographic community in which everyone moves together in rhythm. By contrast, a theatre is a place where an audience can collectively confront itself. The aim is to create a democratic community in which the audience can be both a collective and an individual.
Plato’s parallel to the beautiful animal
While Plato may have been right in the sense that beauty is not an end in itself, he errs on the side of beauty, and the parallel between human beauty and the appearance of animals is a perfect example of this problem. Plato’s parallel to the beautiful animal addresses a critical issue: human beauty corrupts cognitive function. The following passages consider this problem from a different perspective.
First, Plato discusses the pedagogical effect of beauty. In the Phaedrus, he discusses the virtues of beauty and how they correspond to “the good” (Phaedo). He also talks about the role of beauty in poetry and art, where it directs the mind toward knowledge and Forms. Nevertheless, he is not so convinced that beauty can be used for this purpose.
Secondly, he says that physical beauty is a property we all desire to know, and therefore we cannot be completely sure that we know what it is. Rather, Plato believes that this property is a kind of knowledge, but one with an asterisk next to it. For example, a philosopher can know that a particular is beautiful by grasping a form representing beauty and temporarily participating in it.
Plato’s argument that art should be censored
In “The Republic,” the 4th-century philosopher Plato makes a case for censorship of certain art forms. He compares imprisoned slaves with those who weep over the death of Leonardo DiCaprio. Plato’s argument for art censorship is based on its effect on society and children. In the first part of his argument, he outlines four conditions for censorship:
- The first amendment’s original intent
- The 14th-century due process clause
- The Miller test for obscenity
According to Plato, all fiction is corrupt since it was written by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s simply a lie. The state’s role in shaping people should be to prevent bad art from infiltrating children’s minds. Only non-corrupting art should be allowed in schools and public spaces. This would protect both children and their minds, as well as the soul of society.
In his Republic, Plato banned the use of social media. Because it encourages immoral behavior and makes it easier to justify, it would be illegal to use it. Plato would see social media as licensing hatred, which ultimately leads to lawlessness. So, if Plato were in charge of the modern world, he’d ban social media, too. This way, we wouldn’t have so much freedom for the arts to flourish.
The importance of the arts is often overlooked in Plato’s Republic. However, his view of art and music contradicts his argument that they should be censored. For instance, Plato’s requirement of music training before entering a gymnasium is at odds with the idea that they should be deemed useless. The uselessness of lamenting harmonies and their effect on society is questioned.