Plato the Republic

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Kenshara Cravens
Professor James Couch
English 132
24 February 2012
The Republic
Art has always been controversial in a society because of the many different ways the artist tends to express themselves. Plato, who helped lay the foundation for western culture, saw the problems in art over 2,000 years ago. Plato’s The Republic is a series of books that discusses the republic that Plato is trying to create. In each book Plato touches on different topics dealing with the art, that he feels effect society then. Today, some of the points that Plato argue can still be argued. Plato looks only at the negative effects that art can have, rather than the positive effects. In Book II, Plato focuses on fictitious stories told to children while their growing up. Plato’s first plan is to “create a censorship of the writers of fiction” (Plato 13). The job of these people will be to pick which stories are “good “and which stories are “bad”. For some people, books like Harry Potter are good and for others it is bad. The point is that one person’s definition of one thing might be the antithesis of another person’s definition. The censorship of writers can be both useful and not useful. The censorship of writers can be useful, because it might keep certain arts out of the child’s hand. It could be not useful because, the parent will make the ultimate decision if the child will hear or read the story. The next point is what makes the people chosen qualified to select what the children should hear, or not. Once again, it brings up the point of people having their own definition of good and bad. In society today, there are ratings to television shows and movies. Some are not rated for children but in the end the parent makes the decision on what the child is allowed to watch. So instead of having a censorship committee, he should educate the parents more. Plato then goes to talk about the effects of letting children hear tales by saying “and shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any causal tales which may be devised by causal persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they grow up” (Plato 13). This shows how Plato only looks the negative effects of art. The positive about having villains in art is they give the children an example of what not to be. Also having villains in art it allows the children to be able to recognize what is bad, and who are bad people. For example, in Little Red Riding Hood, it teaches a child lessons such as do not talk to strangers, and listen to the parents. It also shows children the consequences for not listening to their parents.

In Book III, Plato focuses on imitation. Plato goes on to talk about how after imitating for so long it becomes natural for the person “ did you ever observe how imitations, beginning in early youth and continued far into life, at the length grow in habits and become a second nature affecting the body, voice, and mind” (Plato 15). It can be argued that just because you imitate something does not mean that is who the person is. For example, there are plenty of actors who have been acting their whole life, who do not take the roles portrayed the home. Meaning that the roles that the person play in films is not the role they play in their everyday life. Plato then goes to talk about the roles that a person should imitate “when he comes to a character which is unworthy of him,[then] he will not make a study of that” (Plato 16). Plato feels that a good person should imitate roles that are only good in nature. Once again Plato fails to realize how a person imitating something bad could have a positive effect on the people. Imitating can have positive effects on society by allowing them to see what is not good for a society. In some cases, the only way to show what something is to imitate it, because it is no longer around. For example, slavery is no longer around, so you most likely cannot...
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