“Have you never noticed how imitation, if long continued from an early age, becomes part of a person’s nature, turns into habits of body, speech and mind?”(..)
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates tries to find the answer to the question: “What is Justice?”. He does this by creating a perfectly just city in order to find justice in the soul. He discusses how the citizens in this city, especially the guardians, should be educated. In this essay I will explain how, according to Socrates, the arts educate and why arts are therefore an important topic in politics. Education in arts is still an often discussed topic, so I will conclude by discussing briefly if censorship in the arts should be warranted. According to Socrates, education in the arts is an important aspect of education. Arts have a major influence on one’s soul and therefore certain arts are allowed in the city, whereas others should be censored. For example Socrates describes that certain parts of Homer should be censored, because people tend to imitate what they see. “What about if they are to be courageous? Shouldn’t they be told stories that will make them least likely to fear the death?” (386a). If the guardians have to be brave, they should not read or hear stories of gods who fear, because as a result they will imitate what they see. This tendency of people to imitate what they see is used by Socrates in his ideas on education. “If they imitate anything, they must imitate right from childhood what is appropriate, people who are courageous, temperate, pious and free” (395c). By discussing the different types of arts with Adeimantus, they find a suitable program of education in the arts for the guardians, and which kind of arts are not allowed in the city. “He will praise fine things, take them into his soul, and become fine and good” (401e). For instance they find a suitable program of education in lyric and odes in music for the guardians. After discussing with Glaucon, Socrates says: “Leave me...
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