Item description for Plato Ion (Amsterdam Studies in Classical Philology) by Rijksbaron & A....
This book presents a revised text of Plato's Ion, with full apparatus criticus, and an extensive commentary, with a linguistic orientation. Linguistic considerations are also the leading principle in the choice of one MS reading rather than another. Special attention is paid to questions of punctuation.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.6" Width: 6.5" Height: 1" Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Release Date Nov 15, 2007
ISBN 9004163212 ISBN13 9789004163218
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For the sake of philosophy, Plato would ban poetry Dec 27, 2008
I read this book for a graduate seminar on the philosophy of art. Plato in his dialogues "Ion, Symposium, and The Republic" was very concerned by the kinds of values presented in Greek poetry. By values, he meant proper and improper ways of acting, behaving, feeling, and thinking and ways of living. Plato thought poets and Homer were educating Greeks with bad values. Especially since Homeric epics were the primary vehicle used for educating the youth language and cultural notions, thus Plato hated this. This was an important battle for Plato, because of poetry's bad teachings; he was trying to contest the status of Greek poetry in the culture.
However, Aristotle says in his "Poetics," if we take a look at Greek poetry on its own terms, in terms of what it was actually doing not in terms of how we are going to approach this as poetry; then we are going to approach this as though the poetry is presenting a way of living, a way of seeing, a way of being, seriously. What this means to the philosophy of art is that this would be different from looking at art in a particular way of thinking and producing. Once that is the case, and you read the poems on their own terms, you come out with a pretty wild world, you come out with a world that is quite unusual. It is from this standpoint that Plato's critique of poetry should seem more amenable, because he was complaining about these wild and strange elements; "saying this is no way to understand human existence, there are better ways of understanding human existence." Plato wants what are familiar terms to us like justice, and rationality, self-activation taught; these concepts are not found in Greek poetry. He wants to revolutionize how human existence is seen.
Plato sees Homer as a tragic poet because heroic exploits are always matched with death and limits. The tragic conception of poetry in Plato's eyes is heavy handed and unworthy. Art was understood as a facet of culture for moderns and an engine of culture for the Greeks. Poetry was not an entertainment option for ancient Greeks; it was their cultural lens through which the Greeks understood themselves. Moreover, the reason why poetry was important was because it had religious elements in terms of stories of the Gods and heroes, and particular forces.
We shouldn't understand fate as predestination. The Greeks had a polytheistic spontaneous, fluid, ever activating religious sensibility. It was not organized by any set of doctrines or cannons, priests. It was all over the place. What is remarkable about Homer and Greek tragedy is that these stories don't make humans into puppets of the Gods. One of the reasons for this is that because of polytheism, there is no religious predestination as one would have with monotheistic Christianity or Judaism. The poetry is presenting a very unusual world where there are multiple sites of divine power causing conflicts with each other. That is why we have stories were the Gods and Goddesses are taking sides and having contests between themselves. So what did fate mean? Well, first in some respects, it meant the power of the Gods, but it didn't simply refer to the power of the Gods. It could also be generalized into a dark negative force, which was usually associated with death and catastrophe, and what is interesting in Homer is that even the Gods can't fully control or stop these things. Plato hates this conflict. No villains in Homer's Trojan War, both sides are seen to have equal nobility. No one in full control of his or her lives, they are caught up in "webs." Despite all this, a hero's noble efforts lead to death, which is the only road to fame, which provides immortality for Greeks. Homer's wonderful line, "So now let us go forth to seek glory or to concede it to others."
This does get us into interesting territory in respect to art. Two reasons for Plato's complaint about the poetry had to do with both its content and what kind of world was presented. We are presented with a world that is dark, fated, and marked by death, and that death is the end, there is no immortality. His biggest complaint of all was that good people suffer downfall. Plato in his "Republic," found this reprehensible to have as a teaching vehicle that "bad things happen to good people," Oedipus is not a flawed character, yet he is made to suffer. Plato hates this. What is good about stories of tragedy to good people? Overall picture of Greek religion is classic people are caught in this web. Plato thinks poetry has world disclosive status; this is the reason why he ultimately wants to ban poetry from Greek society.
His second complaint has to do with the more formal aspect of poetry, which had to do with how poetry was perceived in terms of its productions and reception. There are works, there are artists, and there are audiences. The Greek world was an artworld with a whole set of institutions. Greek tragedy was an artworld put on in the city as an event of religious festivals. Therefore, you have all those features in the Greek world, the works, the artists, the audience, and the artworld. Plato is also targeting things about the poets, the work of art, and the audience. Plato's complaint is that these works are not rationally based.
His "Ion" is a famous little treatise about this "Rhapsoder" (a deliverer) of Homeric poetry. It was believed in the Greek world, that poets and rhapsoders are perceived as being swept up by some sacred power or muses. Thus, poetry for Plato is not a technç (man made craft), or art because poetry for Plato is not "taught like carpentry learning the fundamentals" Poets are inspired. Maybe "divinely inspired." Power of poetry is the inspired source. Like oracles were possessed and a vehicle for that Gods communicated through. Plato identifies this as a problem. He wants rational control and reason.
Mimçsis is imitation for Greeks, one became absorbed by the performance, and the audience gets caught up in the play. For Plato, mimçsis is not just copying, but a sense of imitating but poets are giving a inferior way of living. Poetry stands in the way of pure truth so get rid of it. It damages our psyche. The "Republic" begins and ends with the problem of poetry. Poetry affects adults as well as the young. The power of poetry is that it excites the passions; we enjoy this that is the problem. Art reaches us at the level of passions, senses, physicality. Plato hates this, it is low and unfulfilling. Art is sensual, thus a problem for Socrates. Plato takes art seriously, it talks about truth and values. Plato complains that "Oedipus" is the darkest story.
I recommend this work for anyone interested in philosophy, philosophy of art, Plato, and Greek tragedy.