Christopher Janaway's Images of Excellence: Plato's Critique of the Arts PDF

By Christopher Janaway

ISBN-10: 0198240074

ISBN-13: 9780198240075

This unique new booklet argues for a reassessment of Plato's problem to the humanities. Plato used to be the 1st nice determine in Western philosophy to evaluate the price of the humanities; he argued within the Republic that generally approved varieties of poetry, drama, and song are unsound. whereas this view has been greatly rejected, Janaway argues that Plato's adverse case is a extra coherent and profound problem to the humanities than has occasionally been meant. Denying that Plato advocates "good paintings" in any smooth experience, Janaway seeks either to appreciate Plato's critique within the context of his personal philosophy and to find him in cutting-edge philosophy of artwork, exhibiting how concerns in aesthetics come up from responses to his fees.

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But it makes eight mentions of 'the rhapsodic techne", all put into the mouth of Socrates,32 as if he affirms its existence. Of course, on one view33 this should again be read as a temporary assumption of precisely what is to be refuted. But if we look carefully at the argument's conclusion, we do not find any statement that there exists no rhapsodic techne. The conclusion is 31 Here I am indebted to Spragne (1976), 6-7. 4, 541al-2. Three of these use the expression he rhapsattiki, omitting the word techne.

31 A general or a charioteer has a techne which is basic, in that its subject-matter is simply directing men in warfare or driving a chariot By contrast, the techne of the poet is at second level: its subject-matter includes the basic technai, along with their subject-matter. The rhapsode's critical or eulogistic art is at a third level: when he "speaks well* of Homer, Ms subject-matter is the poetic fee/we Now note two important points. In one sense, there is a transparency between these levels: in discoursing on Homer's exercise of the art of poetry, one obtains generalship and charioteering as part of one's subject-matter.

In the Gorgias he holds that any true techne aims always at the good, which is distinct from pleasure. What persists is the drive to show that having or transmitting moral excellence consists in possessing genuine expertise of a certain kind, The dramatic context of the Gorgias h Socrates' conversation with the great practitioner and teacher of rhetoric, Gorgias, and with Polus, his younger colleague. 16 His rhetorical style, which Plato sometimes parodies, is calculated for impressive effect, using repetition of sound-patterns and deliberately piling up redundant parallels or opposites for almost any word or idea It comes across as ponderous and artificial-—but bears out the fact that Gorgias was also a theorist about language and its effects.

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Images of Excellence: Plato's Critique of the Arts by Christopher Janaway


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