Aesthetics of Plato

Developing his doctrine of the beautiful, Plato points out that in a series of beautiful things that are called not only beautiful people and the body are beautiful. Fine are also called works of art. Aesthetics is not only a philosophy of beauty, but also a philosophical teaching, or theory of art. This is how the object of aesthetics was understood and understood in modern times. Moreover, beginning with Kant and Hegel, the idealistic aesthetics of modern times completely reduced the aesthetic problem to the problem of beauty in art. (See Aesthetics of Kant, Aegis of Hegel, Plato on Art – briefly.)

The question in Plato’s philosophy was posed in a completely different way. His aesthetics is the least “philosophy of art.” The transcendental nature of Platonic idealism, the opposition of the idea to phenomena that are truly true (but beyond the limit with respect to all sensory) to the non-existent, the real-seeming in principle, excluded the possibility of a high appreciation of art deeply rooted in the world of sensory nature. Moreover, these features excluded the possibility of a view, according to which the object of aesthetics is art.

Plato’s aesthetics is a mythological ontology of the beautiful, that is, the doctrine of the being of the beautiful, and not the philosophy of art. By virtue of the initial premises of Plato’s teaching, the beautiful is rendered in it beyond the boundaries of art, placed high above art – in the sphere of existence beyond the reach of the world, barely discernible by the thought of man, as long as he remains a sensible person.

But also in the matter of art the contradictory nature of Plato’s worldview has affected. He had a special, personal, occasion to make art one of the important problems of his philosophy. Plato himself was a first-rate artist, a brilliant prose writer, a master of dialogical form, the most knowledgeable connoisseur of all art. Let from the point of view of the idealistic theory of the existence of Plato, art, immersed in the sensory world, seemed to be something insignificant, and its images – far from the true reality and unworthy of philosophical analysis. But from the point of view of the social theory of education, it grew to the size of a major problem. In his contemporary art, Plato saw one of the means by which Athenian democracy brought up the type of person that corresponded to her concepts. In this type, Plato was not at all able to recognize his ideal. At the same time, the idea of the educational role of art put before Plato a question of essential importance. From the doctrine of the beautiful as an “idea” Plato’s aesthetics was to move to the doctrine of art. It was to raise the question of creativity, the work of art, the relation of images of art to reality and its social – educational – action on citizens of the policy.

Part of these issues Plato considers in one of his most mature dialogues – in the “State” (see his full text and a brief summary). The view of Plato on the images of art is determined by the idealism of his worldview. If sensible things are imperfect and distorted mappings of true-existing ideas, then the images of art, according to Plato, are even less perfect. They reflect reflections, shadow shadows, imitation of imitation. In art, therefore, there is no truth. Artists only imagine that they know what they portray in their works: the actions of heroes, generals, generals, gods.

And yet the action of art is powerful. Works of art do not and cannot give true knowledge, but they affect feelings and behavior. Musical modes can, for example, educate in young people self-mastery, courage, discipline or relax these necessary qualities for them. Therefore, the state must exercise strict control over the educational action of art: to prohibit art harmful and to allow only consistent with the tasks of education.

Discussing these questions in the “State”, Plato casts a classification of genres of poetry, determines the signs of epic, lyrical and dramatic poetry. These studies paved the way for the classification of genres, which Aristotle developed from positions other than Plato’s.

In “Ion” it is a question of two basic kinds of creativity: about creativity of the artist creating for the first time a work of art, and about the creativity of the artist-performer, bringing the idea to the audience and listeners, so that the work is imprinted in them. Plato takes, first, the question of the source of primary creativity that generates the work, and secondly, the question of the possibility of deliberate and conscious learning creativity. This last question leads to the question of the rational or irrational nature of artistic creativity.

Already sophistical education has raised the problem of education as one of the central problems. The life basis of sophistry of the V century. form the diverse needs generated by the developing judicial and political institutions of the city-state. They also sharply raised the issues of political education and training. Public teacher of eloquence, a mentor in political, and not only in some political sciences – one of the most characteristic and most eminent figures of a democratic Greek city in the V century. Originally, this phenomenon arose in the Greek cities of Sicily and Southern Italy, which had advanced on the road to democratization. But a little time has elapsed since the emergence of Sicilian schools of rhetoric, and now Athens is becoming a place of activity for new teachers. New art is promoted in spectacular contests, in paradoxical disputes, through demonstrative lectures and lectures, in paid courses offered by new-found mentors of political skill and all sorts of other wisdom.

The premise of sophistical practice was the idea that learning new political knowledge and skills is not only possible but necessary. Not only in advertising, in the bragging enunciation of pupils practiced by some sophists, but also in the serious speeches of the most gifted and profound of them, the true confidence in the ability to teach others, in the ability to transfer to students the basics of their skills and art, breathes. Such people as Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus, Hippias, not only knew a lot and knew many things.

The Sophists’ conviction in the possibility of teaching political art spread to the art of artists. In sophistry there were many elements of artistry, artistic action and charm. The sophist conquered listeners and students not only with the art of his logical conclusions, but not least with the art of their imprinting – in speech, in word. The initial connection between sophistry and rhetoric easily led to the fact that the premise of the possibility of teaching political art could be turned into a prerequisite for the possibility of teaching artistry.

In the Platonic “Protagoras” the famous sophist directly states that “it is very important for a person who is at least somewhat educated to know the sense in poetry – this means understanding what the poets say, to judge what is right in their creations and what is not, and to be able to disassemble and give it an explanation if anyone asks “(338E – 339A). But Antagonist Protagoras Socrates admits that military and political valor are inextricably linked with skill in the art of speech.

But if the art of eloquence is so closely connected with the skill of the artistic word, then the question of the possibility of teaching art acquired great importance, besides not only theoretical, but also practical.

Recognition of the possibility of teaching art, artistic mastery, meant for Plato the relegation of art to the degree of specialty, profession, crafts – it led to the establishment of a well-known aesthetic democracy.

But this conclusion seemed to Plato unacceptable and unacceptable in the society that he would like to see instead of the society that existed in reality. Plato’s political views legitimized the most abrupt, most carefully regulated division of labor for the lower classes, but with the greater force excluded any specialization for crafts belonging to the upper class “free-born.” Thus, Hippocrates, derived in Protagoras, assumes, as Socrates guessed, that the training of the famous foreign sophist will not be professional. According to Plato’s belief, it is possible and appropriate to teach the art of a “free-born” person only for the purposes of enlightened amateurism and in details not exceeding what is required for a connoisseur belonging to the class of free to express a competent and authoritative judgment.

At the same time, Plato does not at all deny the existence of professional training in art, or even the possibility of such training for people of lower classes. He only denies the usefulness and expediency of such training for free people. Plato strives to emphasize and preserve the line separating people free from people, attached – by virtue of their lower social status – to one or another profession. And since in the enjoyment of works of art he is inclined to see the advantage of the “best”, he seeks to drive out professional training in art from the system of education of these “best.”