February 9, 2005

Feeling 3 x's removed.

Know someone who just can't seem to grasp the concept of Reality? Yeah, me too. His name is Ion.

I read two selections from Greek philosophy. The first by Socrates, is called Ion and the other Phaedrus by Plato. Both dialogues were fairly difficult to follow, simply because of the language. What I did pick up on was that Socrates was basically calling Ion, the rhapsode a fool.

Maybe I can make myself clear on this point by reviewing some Plato. Then again, I'm learning it right now in Philosophy of Art, so if you're confused, sorry.

Plato says that an artist is three times removed from Reality. He is an imitator of an imitator. The artist becomes inspired to create a painting, much like the rhapsodist becomes inspired to recite poetry.

A painting of a chair is an imitation of a chair which you can sit on. The chair, or the person who built the chair is only twice removed from Reality. Therefore, the poet is twice removed from Reality.

What is real in these two examples are the Forms. A chair is a form of the form of 'chairness'. The poet is a form of 'Godness'.

At any rate, Plato says that artists blind us. They do not allow us to see Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. They have no knowledge of a good chair or a bad chair. They are simply inspired and play to our emotions. We are sucked in and believe.

In the same light, rhapsodites have no knowledge of the good and the bad of what they are telling people about. Yet, they are inspired by the poets and become convincing of what they are saying. These rhapsodites, thrice removed from the Forms, blind us. Our emotions take over because they are so aesthetically pleasing that we automatically believe.

So, this character Ion is a rhapsodite. He and Socrates had a conversation about Homer. Ion thought that he was the best speaker of Homer. However, when Socrates asked him about Hesiod, Ion could not speak of him. In fact he fell asleep. Socrates credits this to the fact that Ion was ignorant of 'the art.' He could speak highly of the man he adored, but he had nothing to ground him so that he could say whether Hesiod was worse than Homer, or defend Homer as being correct.

I hope that I have helped to clear some of this up. But, truthfully, I could use a little explaining myself.

Posted by MelissaTrecaso at February 9, 2005 9:55 PM

it was really good to read your take on aristotle's poetics and plato's philosophy of art.
you relly made it easy for me to understand it.

Posted by: neelam raturi at September 12, 2005 12:40 PM