In his Republic, after denouncing Athenian poetry and poets in certain sections, Plato decrees their deportation from his Utopia in the 10th book of the same work. At the same time, however, Plato’s own works abound in poetic concepts, and wherever he talks about poets, Full Text
In his Republic, after denouncing Athenian poetry and poets in certain sections, Plato decrees their deportation from his Utopia in the 10th book of the same work. At the same time, however, Plato’s own works abound in poetic concepts, and wherever he talks about poets, he uses a language which is both hesitant and respectful. Accordingly, this paper is intended to provide some answers to the following questions: which truth underlies such a paradoxical attitude? How could Plato’s approach to poets be explained? What is the main object of Plato’s criticism: Athenian poets’ use of poetry or the essence of poetry itself? Or, should one seek for the response elsewhere and perhaps find the problem in the addressees of poetry? The authors believe that, if one agrees that one of the important elements of poetry in Athens was to believe in an epistemological aspect for sophist teachings, and if one assumes that, beyond ontological and epistemological discussions, Plato’s first problem is basically politics and the establishment of an organized political system, it can be concluded that, in this Utopia, the Athenian poetic tradition and its specific features are not consistent with Plato’s political ideas. The reason is that if one considers paedeia or a system of education to be necessary for the establishment of Utopia, if the intended paedeia is based on mythology and sophists’ teachings as its epistemological origin, it will be doomed to failure from the beginning. Moreover, one can approach this problem from the epistemological aspect of Plato’s philosophy and speak of the distinction between aesthetic beauty, as we know it today and as it is manifest in works of art, and the Ideal beauty or the same truth, as intended by Plato. In his view, the aesthetic view of beauty is a subcategory of Ideal beauty; hence, by the word “beautiful”, he does not merely mean the values that are involved in today’s concept of aesthetics. Rather, he has ethical and epistemological values in mind as well. Therefore, the discussion of the dismissal of poets from Utopia must be revisited under the category of general and particular senses of beauty.