Plato's Forms

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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

which are themselves distant from the ideal Forms. These ideal Forms

consist of the ultimate paradigms in our universe containing truth and

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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

produces 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.

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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

ordinary, but would simply be behaving like the first and greatest

gods” (47). Here Plato is arguing that the falsehood within stories can

fantasize young...
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