Feed on
Posts
Comments

Imitation and Poetry

In Book X of The Republic Socrates criticizes poetry and Plato would imply that the criticism would extend to all other art forms. Socrates explains that art is basically imitations of objects and he offers the example of a couch which is painted or imitated by the painter but originally designed by the carpenter (597a). He claims that art is an imitation of an imitation; that is it is three times removed (597e). This is true because the couch made by the carpenter is an imitation of the ‘idea’ of the couch, which the carpenter will then base his design of his couch on. Glaucon is then convinced  by Socrates’s argument that art can be misleading as many people can not recognize  “that these works are third from what is and are easy to make for the man who doesn’t know the truth” (599a).He then distinguishes that those who do understand the truth would not be deceived nor concerned with imitations when the ‘idea’ can be conceived through philosophy. By what Socrates says in his dialogues it can be assumed that Plato since he is the writer and Socrates a narrator then Plato himself believes that against art as well. Plato will claim that “there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (607b). However, Plato does not present this as his own writings but dictates them through the dialogues which Socrates has with others such as Glaucon, Adeimantus and Thrasymachus. Hence, Plato imitates in his work the ‘idea’ of a conversation between Socrates and his comrades. That would make The Republic an imitation but how could that be since it is the very thing Socrates and Plato both oppose. Nevertheless it is imitating an imitation, with Plato creating the same art which he so vehemently writes against.

Similar to a poet who has not experienced but imagines and then imitates what characters say in order to depict art through poetry, Plato includes the dialogues for all the others Socrates has conversations with. Again we have a discrepancy because this is exactly what Socrates had condemned previously in Book III, when he called for censorship as “what both poets and prose writers say concerning the most important things about human beings is bad” (392b). When Socrates proposes that through this censorship of poets only the opposite will be said-that is it will be restricted to only speaking about the good and discarding amplified negative associations. But the inherent question is whether this is what Plato is trying to achieve in The Republic? It seems counterproductive that since The Republic criticizes art as imitating an imitation then it would presumably would not have followed the same dictates it opposes. Therefore it is difficult to decipher whether Plato is working in the framework of creating a work of art or trying to narrate his philosophical viewpoint. Furthermore was it in fact Plato’s agenda to have it function as both.

If we consider the duality within Socrates’ criticism of art, we take the example of the couch and have already positioned it as an imitation of an imitation. However, in doing so the criticism becomes about  all of art being three times removed from the actual truth, and therefore belonging to an inferior state in comparison to philosophy which would deal only with reality. And yet the structure of The Republic is also an imitation of an imitation and falling into the same category as the one described for art. The question remains is that what purpose does this apply? Philosophy could be described as the love of wisdom and tries to grasp the knowledge of the whole. This wisdom could be amalgamated into one single speech then it would consist of various sources that would join to incorporate the whole of knowledge. But Plato’s dialogues demonstrate that such a singular speech about the whole or wisdom can not exist. The Republic is basically Plato’s speech on philosophy, however it also employ’s logical deductions, myth, history and poetry and therefore are singular speeches unto themselves. This goes on to prove that it is not possible to have a singular speech for wisdom but simultaneously also showing the plurality which constitutes the whole. The dialogues can therefore be a diverse way to show the plurality of the whole. But then the dialogues, with its singular speech of philosophy imitates once again the plurality of the whole, which by extension could be rendered as art. The Republic if it is taken as an imitation of Socrates’ philosophic discussions with others then it is also an imitation of the speech of philosophy which through its own distinct plurality imitates the plurality of the whole. Hence, The Republic is also a work of art but with its association with philosophy, the highest art.

19 Responses to “Imitation and Poetry”

  1. Sources

    […]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

  2. BEFLUENT.PL says:

    Great website

    […]we like to honor many other internet sites on the web, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out[…]…

  3. Websites worth visiting

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…

  4. Great website

    […]we like to honor many other internet sites on the web, even if they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out[…]…

  5. Related…

    […]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[…]…

  6. Recent Blogroll Additions…

    […]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[…]…

  7. Websites you should visit

    […]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[…]…

  8. Visitor recommendations

    […]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[…]…

  9. Gems form the internet

    […]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[…]…

  10. Cool sites

    […]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]…

  11. Online Article…

    […]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available […]…

  12. Superb website

    […]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[…]…

  13. Online Article…

    […]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available […]…

  14. Gems form the internet

    […]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[…]…

  15. Blogs ou should be reading

    […]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[…]…

  16. Websites worth visiting

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…

  17. Recommeneded websites

    […]Here are some of the sites we recommend for our visitors[…]…

  18. Superb website

    […]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[…]…

  19. Visitor recommendations

    […]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[…]…