Eric Morin 103317083 01-26-285 Professor L. Buj Jan 16, 2011 Plato’s Criticism On Deceptive Forms Plato’s critique of art operates on two levels, the ontological and the moral. Both levels are interpreted within disdain taste as Plato proposes that the banishment of art could actually bring fourth a closer connection between humanity and truth. His argument against the existence of art as well as its functioning purposes will be further discussed in this paper. Plato’s ontological view on the existence of art looks deep within the nature as well as its overall properties rather bitterly.
Plato’s attack on art does not merely constitute visual art, but rather holds a more expansive scope reaching into literature and especially poetry. For Plato, art is accountable for multiple negative influences, which affect all audiences who try to interpret it. These influences are what Plato believes hinders humanity towards aspiring truth. Art for Plato receives negative attention at the moment of creation. Plato believes that the thoughts processed by the creator and/or artist are far from original and are alternatively imitations of the real world hich are themselves distant from the ideal Forms. These ideal Forms consist of the ultimate paradigms in our universe containing truth and 2 absolute wholeness, thus proposing a problem for Plato. These copies of copies are referred to as mimesis. During the grandeur search of truth, mimesis serves the audience deceit and alarmingly leads them farther from the ideal Forms. As mentioned in the text, “Because mimesis presents us with an inferior copy of a copy, poetry takes its listeners away from rather than toward the ideal Forms” (Leitch 43).
The hypocrisy surrounding literature proves to be troublesome for Plato on a multitude of levels. In the search for completeness, art not only fails to provide insight toward truth but rather, is actually lying to you. This mimetic stance held within the nature of art is believed to be nothing more than fabrication. Plato maintains his argument by stating that as the audience is deceptively reeled into a degraded mind state, truth is less obtainable. Introduced in the text, “Because [Literature] stories are fictional, made up, literature is dangerous; it roduces only lies” (43). Plato not only bashes art on an ontological level, but also finds problems morally. During deception and degradation through imitation within text, Plato analyzes the problems art has within its nature and relates that to the morality of audience. He argues that if art is further removing oneself from the truth, than it cannot be in the best interest of man. Thus, banishment of art would be the only way to restore deception and appease humanity. 3 Plato begins by focusing on the dangerous elements of art and its affect on young minds.
His argument states, “Now, do you appreciate that the most important stage of any enterprise is the beginning, especially when something young and sensitive is involved? ” (46). In this part of the text, Plato is trying to explain that not only is the young mind fragile enough to easily fall into this created trap of deceit, but also that ruining the quest for truth at a young age brings upon negative consequences for all of humanity. Argued furthermore, “No young person is to hear stories which suggest that were he to commit the vilest of crimes … he wouldn’t be doing anything out of the rdinary, but would simply be behaving like the first and greatest gods” (47). Here Plato is arguing that the falsehood within stories can fantasize young minds into ultimately developing enhanced personas, which escalates into degradation of truth in reality. Plato further extends his argument on art and morality into the minds of all humans. Since art is of a deceitful nature according to Plato, it cannot undertone any good found within the text but is instead considered the primary fault within literature. Thus, the deception in which the audience resorts to is ultimately proposed as egative and unneeded. Different from a beneficial spoken lie, Plato states about literature, “All I’m saying is that no one is happy at being 4 lied to and deceived in his mind about the facts” (51). One of Plato’s biggest moral issues with art explores the depiction of human kind in literature. He believes that in order to truly display characteristics of a character we are not only mending the emotions and feelings to suit the text itself but for our own personal capacity. This sort of mutilation of character not only revives the notion of eception within literature but again bringing treason to our own reality. By distorting the character, we would be digging through created deceit as well as misinterpreting the true meaning of what was intended. Plato not only rejects our created distortion, but also feels as though the author creates this misinterpretation in a deceptive way. As Plato addresses, “What we’d claim, I imagine, is that poets and prose-writers misrepresent people in extremely important ways” (58). A real life example of artwork that could be examined and placed under Plato’s critical thinking rests in Versailles.
There, artist Jeff Koons has created a replica of an inflatable lobster that hangs down from the ceiling for all to see. The lobster seems to be created as though it is soft to touch and friendly to the eyes. Already our senses have been deceived. As Plato would primarily analyze the creationist, we find that Jeff 5 Koons has not only produced a copy of a copy, but adds double the mimetic stages. Plato would argue that Jeff’s original thought has come from an ideal Form, followed by his initial drawing, then an addition of computer enhancement, and lastly interpreted and actually reated by fellow minds in his workshop. This notion sets the idea that Jeff is rather far from being the creationist, which is deceptive to audience in itself. Plato’s ontological stance would prove testy and unacceptable, as mimetic deceit is thoroughly prevalent within the whole of this piece. Plato would then examine the piece of art and relate it to morality. As this specific piece hangs down appearing soft and inflatable, it as well is deceitful in itself. Made out of metal, the lobster looms above the heads of audiences worldwide. Confusing to our senses, he would isapprove the artworks influence and be especially concerned for child observers. Plato would believe that not only is the nature of this piece deceptive, but our outtake of what we have witnessed would follow suit. In all of this deception, Plato would argue that artwork does indeed lead humanity farther from the truth and most importantly from primary ideal Forms, thus resulting in banishment being the primal response. 6 Works Cited Leitch, Vincent B. , ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism. New York, NY: Norton, 2010. Print.
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