Plato's Conception Of Art

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Today, whether on television, the internet, radio, newspapers, billboards, or in theaters, art can be found just about everywhere. In Plato's time, however, art would have been a lot more scarce. For example, instead of being written in books, poetry would generally take the form of spoken word, especially during festivals and events. Plato believed, however, that these forms of art including poetry, tragedies, and paintings were actually harmful to the average man or woman, and that these arts were dangerous due to the glamorization of outward appearances and irresponsible behaviour. He believed that art only reflected these outward appearances, and not necessarily the reality. Further, Plato argued that because the artists do not actually …show more content…
He gives the example of a man carry around a mirror, writing, "I suppose the quickest way is if you take a mirror and carry it around with you wherever you go. That way, you'll soon create the sun and heavenly bodies, soon create the earth, soon create yourself, other living creatures, furniture, plants, and all things . . . I could create them as they appear to be. But not, I take it, as they truly are". The meaning here is that although an artist may be able to "recreate" something is his art, like the mirror can recreate a person's image, they are both only imitations of the real thing, and thus lacks truth. Art glamorizes these imitations, painting them in a positive light to the masses. Essentially, as Plato goes on to state, these imitations are a far cry from the truth. In poetry, we can see this in regards to an author's bias swinging the narrative of their poem one way or the other, or in a painting depicting war, each side presented in a positive or negative manner depending on which side the painter supports. Plato described this as good and bad, and of the danger involved wrote that "the imitator will have neither knowledge nor correct opinion about the goodness or badness of the things he imitates . . . and it looks as if what he imitates will be the kind of thing that appears good to the ignorant …show more content…
Considering his arguments, however, it is not so difficult to, at the very least, comprehend the surface of his somewhat radical views on the dangers of the arts. It does not accurately reflect reality, which in turn can create a false image of the truth, spread by the individual who perceives it in that way. He argues that although we do get enjoyment from art, art in excess can change our own behaviours for the worse. In the end, art can only ever depict outward appearances to the ignorant observer, and that, in itself, is very dangerous

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