Greek Philosophy & Art: Plato & Socrates

Plato & Socrates \"The School of Athens\"

Plato and Socrates, two of the most famous philosophers of all time, were figureheads with the birth of philosophy, generally claiming to be born in Ancient Greece.  Plato considered Socrates to be his mentor and, thusly, much of what is known about Socrates and his philosophies comes from Plato himself.  These two had a great deal to propound on the nature of the world, not limited to the purpose and functions of art.

It has been proposed that Plato might have been a poet before he came under the influence of Socrates and became a philosopher.  Many of his Dialogues have a very poetic nature to them and he is a wonderfully crafted storyteller.  However, while seeming to hold art in a very high esteem, these two also considered art to be a very dangerous thing.  Art is a strong influence on the character of a man and in an ideal society; the arts themselves would have to be closely monitored.  Naturally, this idea causes a great deal of conflict and strife with artists.

Art is something, which imitates reality. While Plato believed that the world itself is an imperfect copy of the true Ideal, art is an imperfect imitation of that original imitation.  Now, while art can be an inspired, great work, it can also be incredibly dangerous.  Art is something, which stirs the senses and brings emotion about in the viewer. Since it makes such an influence on a man’s character, it must be carefully monitored toward exactly the type of art that a man ingests.  At least in the early stages of the life, Plato was a staunch believer that only “good” forms of art are presented for consumption.

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