PLATO (427-347 B.C.): attacks the arts of his days (epic poets and dramatists) in The Republic . ( Text and Illustrations by Donald Palmer, Does the Center Hold?: An Introduction to Western Philosophy, CA, Mayfield, 1991) Plato and the Arts
The great poets of Greece (for example, Homer) produce bad fictions– false stories that have bad effects on their listeners. create a fear of death. The arts should be censored!!! Source: John Fisher, Reflecting on Art , California: Mayfield, 1993)
Plato’s Ontological Objection : Art is imitation (mimesis) Art imitates the world as it appears, not the world as it is. Art is a copy of “particular objects” which are themselves copies of higher things” Art is in the realm of ‘images’, an illusion.
House of Deception
The function of art is to deceive. From reality (the Forms) / toward illusion (images)
Some arts might be justifiable.
Plato’s Epistemological Objection The work of art does not give us any knowledge of the world The artists do not know what they are doing.
Plato’s Moral Objection The pursuit of knowledge is the pursuit of the Good, and if art produces ignorance, then art is immoral. Art seems to focus on the flaws in human and divine nature (showing great men and gods doing immoral things) Art does not appeal to the highest faculty of the soul, Pure reason.
Homer and Greek Tragedies
Zeus cheats on his wife.
Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War says that it is better to be a live coward than a dead hero
Art appeals to the senses and the desire for pleasure rather than to reason and the desire for knowledge.