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Plato Vs. Aristotle On Art Essay

1979 words - 8 pages

For over two thousand years, various philosophers have questioned the influence of art in our society. They have used abstract reasoning, human emotions, and logic to go beyond this world in the search for answers about arts' existence. For philosophers, art was not viewed for its own beauty, but rather for the question of how art and artists can help make our society more stable for the next generation. Plato, a Greek philosopher who lived during 420-348 B.C. in Athens, and Aristotle, Plato’s student who argued against his beliefs, have no exceptions to the steps they had to take in order to understand the purpose of art and artists. Though these two philosophers made marvelous discoveries about the existence of art, artists, and aesthetic experience, Plato has made his works more controversial than Aristotle.
During the ancient times in Greece, Plato was the first human to document and criticize the existence of art and artists. He mentioned that human art was always in a form of a representation of something else. In one of Plato’s famous works, he demonstrates the idea of art is like an “imitation of nature” (Blocker 3). In other words, the purpose of art was to represent nature and nothing else. Art was not created for the sake of its own self nor was it created to appreciate its own beauty by any means. Instead, art, usually in forms of writings, paintings, or sculptures, was created to only to represent nature, Gods, emperors, families, or other important individuals. Furthermore, Plato had a very critical view towards the existence art in our society because art makes us more emotional, and our emotions lead to many errors about life. He believed it is our rational thinking, not our emotions or senses, which helps us understand this world. He utters, “Knowledge can only come by grasping nature which underlies the causes of things… people in art create practical senses to know how things work but don’t know in a scientific purpose why” (Blocker 4). Here, he is a believer in those who use knowledge to understand nature in reality and is against people who use their senses through art to understand the beauty of nature. In addition, Plato says artists promote the use of our senses over reason through something they do not have an experience of. According to Plato, “There are philosophers, who form an idea, then a craftsperson, who makes the physical representation of the idea, and then the poor artist who creates a copy of a copy of that idea” (Blocker 5). In this sense, an artist has no clue what he is creating because his works are only imitations of other people’s ideas. Therefore, Plato considered artists to be dangerous in the human society because they are not experts in the representations they create.
Plato takes an addition step at making fun of artists when he stresses people’s role in the great society. He despises an artist’s existence in a great society because he believes each individual should master only one skill in...

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