Answer: Bring out the salient features of Plato’s attack on poetry.
Plato, the renowned Greek philosopher who holds firm to his opinions on art, poets, and poetry, launches a series of assaults against the art form of poetry. In his Republic, he expresses his thoughts and ideas in great detail. The majority of Plato’s points of view are expressed as criticisms of poetry. Plato unquestionably thought that poetry had force, and that this power inspired others to emulate the things they saw in art. Because of his metaphysical views, this seems to be a terrible sign for him.
According to Plato, the essence of the world is that it is a copy of itself (mimesis). He thought that reality is made up of many levels. It is made up of concepts at the top, and all of the lower layers are modelled after those ideas. Mimesis, according to Plato, was just a representation rather than an expression that was creative. Plato claimed that a poet who depicts a chair in his poem does not accurately depict the actual piece of furniture. He was a believer in the presence of an absolute reality, according to him. This universe is made up of ideal things, of which the particular items that make up this world are nothing more than copies or reflections. The painter or poet who imitates these particular things is copying and imitating, and as a result, is creating something that is even more distant from reality than the original. For example, a chair exists first and foremost as a concept, secondly as an item of workmanship, and thirdly as an object of artistic expression. As a result, mimesis is three times distant from the actual world.
Plato was a strong believer in the significance of the actual form of a reality. He only believed in the most concrete manifestations of reality. Dramatized dialogue was unacceptable to him because it pushed individuals to live lives that were different from their own, according to his reasoning. Even today, parents teach their children something about the advent of cable television. T.V. Plato was just warning people about the dangers of mindlessly copying roles; he worried that the effect of imitation might be so powerful that it would totally take over the brains and lives of countless young people and make it the most important thing in their life. Plato felt uncomfortable with the notion of sorrow produced by depictions of pain in the plays, and this was reflected in his writing. He was under the impression that a brief catharsis might affect the audiences so powerfully that they would become emotionally unmanageable as a result.
Bring out the salient features of Plato’s attack on poetry’
His main complaint toward mimesis was really the idea that both drama and epic mimic the world of immaterial appearances, which he considered to be a flaw in mimesis. The only world that existed for him was that of abstractions. Because the poet was imitating the look of abstraction, a drama or an epic was a derivative of the derivative, and so three times away from reality in his view. ‘They are pictures, not representations of reality.’ As can be readily observed while reading Plato’s Republic, he was the first major thinker to challenge society on philosophical grounds, whereas the rhetoricians never questioned society on philosophical grounds.
Following Plato’s thinking processes and theories, the Neo-Platonists of the fourth and fifth century AD understood Plato’s actuality of abstractions to be the Thoughts of God, in accordance with their own understanding of the world. As these theories suggested, artists might perhaps circumvent the realm of sensory appearances in order to get direct access to the real. Despite the fact that they did not directly contribute to ‘poiesis’ in the traditional sense, their interpretations prepared the way for the poets’ claims to be missionaries and the poet’s words to be taken as religious words or truth.
Among Plato’s writings are the Republic, Ion, Cratylus, the Dialogues of Plato, and the Phaedrus, to name just a few examples. When it comes to poetry, Plato has dealt extensively with the idea of the poet as divinely inspired in the Phaedrus and has discussed the role of poetry in a healthy society when it comes to the Republic. In fact, in Book II, he addresses the education of a decent citizen, as well as the nature of poetry and the importance of creative writing, among other topics. Book X of the Republic is devoted to a detailed discussion of the nature of poetry. His most significant contribution to literary theory comes in the shape of his criticisms on the concept of ‘poiesis.’ He does an excellent job of presenting this point via the lens of a painter. Plato, as we already said, believed in actual reality, in the ideal, and in abstractions as well. For him, things were nothing more than a representation of reality or the ideal, and he believed that a person copying an imitation would result in a mimetic form that was three times as far away from the ideal as the reality or the ideal. Poetry, in a similar vein, did the same thing for Plato – it was poor because it was an imitation of an imitation of something else.
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The nature and distinguishing characteristics of ‘poiesis’ were later examined and demonstrated by Aristotle, who demonstrated that ‘poiesis’ was true, serious, and beneficial, whereas Plato had maintained that it was false, trivial, and harmful, and that the poet should be barred from participating in his republic.