chapter  6
Plato
Art, beauty and philosophy
Pages 10

The author looks at two ways in which the arts, for him, could have positive value. First, artists, in particular visual artists and musicians, can produce things which are embodiments of beauty, grace and harmony. Second, art, especially poetry and prose literature, can act as a vehicle of philosophy, expressing and conveying philosophical ideas. According to Plato, things in the world are images of eternal and ideal Forms; most people do not have knowledge of the natures of those Forms, and in general it is the philosopher who can gain that knowledge, and express it in philosophical speech. The author begins by looking at two passages in the Republic which have inspired this view. He agrees with those who have argued that they do not in fact support it, in the form in which it came to be held; nevertheless, they do point to ways in which Plato could allow positive value to the arts.