Critically examine Plato’s claims on art.
Plato doesn’t see the work of art like something Humans add into the world by the creation of something new or something more but he sees in art something less: The art object is less then its model. Art is imitation. Furthermore art doesn’t imitate the beings but the sensible. Plato compare the work of art to the representation of the word that youcan see in a mirror “ With it (the mirror) you can quickly make the sun, the things in the heavens, the earth, yourself, the other animals, manufactured items, plants and everything else mentioned just now” (Republic book 10) To elucidate this point of view we will briefly summarise plato’s ontology especially from Plato’s Republic but also from the Timoeus and Hippias Major.
Plato’s claimson aesthetics takes two main angles: the Ontological and epistemological depreciation of art, and the critic of sensibility followed by a scission between art and beauty, art is objects, beauty is a property of Ideas. This critical analyse will be supported by the comparison with other theories of art like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.
To completely understand any of plato’s claim we have tokeep in my is ontology of Ideas whereas a simple explanation or listing of his claim on art will, from the point of view of a modern thinker, seem, completely absurd.
Plato created a very peculiar ontological scale, on the top, the Ideas, they are the very basis of any knowledge. Plato considered that we knows everything, we contemplated the whole truth of the world before our arrival on earth,but we also forgot everything. According to Plato there is a unique ontological ground constituted by immutable and universal realities independent of the intellect whom sensible world is the reflexion. Life consist on the re-discovery of the Ideas that we have been contemplating. According to Plato this is the reason why when I see a new kind of tree I am not asking what is it, even if its formand colour is completely different from the ones I use to see, I have the Idea of what a tree is, we can compare this questioning as the one of Descartes in his Discours de la Méthode ask could he recognise the candle as a candle even if its melt and the colours has changed? From this notions of Ideas was born this ontological scale, everything in the world could be evaluate relatively to theperfection of Ideas. “It is absolutely necessary that this world is the reflection of something else” (Personal translation from french version of Timoeus) What is understandable is never contain inside the things by themselves but from a model from which things took their sense. Plato clearly separate what is immutable and what appeared, and from this claim if the world could be understood it isbecause “ It has been formed according to the model of what is understandable and always identical to itself” (Personal translation from french version of Timoeus)
The ontological depreciation of Art
From the point of view of the theory of Ideas, the work of Art is an imitation, but an imitation is not necessary something to reject. Plato in the Republic compare the work of Art with thecraftsman, he explained in the chapter X that the craftsman creates a bed according to the Idea of a bed, this Idea is pure, universal and immutable, but because the bed is a direct imitation of an Idea it keeps a value. The bed is a part of the Idea, and because the bed has a function it is a thing, whereas the artist has the sensible as a model, and he imitate in the sensible what is not from theIdeas. From this point the work of Art has no ontological value. The ontological scale could be summarized like this:
The Idea of a Bed --> The bed of the Craftsman--->The bed of the Artist
The craftsman’s bed translate the Idea of the bed into material, its unity is founded on the fact that it looks like the Ideas of the bed.
We cannot go back up to the Idea of a bed, from the bed of the...
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