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Images of Excellence: Plato's Critique of the Arts

Overview

Plato was the first great figure in Western philosophy to assess the value of the arts; he famously argued in the Republic that traditionally accepted forms of poetry, drama, and music are unsound, claiming they are conducive to warped ethical standards, detrimental to the psyche, and purveyors of illusions about important matters in human life. This view has been widely rejected; but Christopher Janaway here argues that Plato's hostile case is a more coherent and a more profound challenge to the arts than has ...
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Overview

Plato was the first great figure in Western philosophy to assess the value of the arts; he famously argued in the Republic that traditionally accepted forms of poetry, drama, and music are unsound, claiming they are conducive to warped ethical standards, detrimental to the psyche, and purveyors of illusions about important matters in human life. This view has been widely rejected; but Christopher Janaway here argues that Plato's hostile case is a more coherent and a more profound challenge to the arts than has sometimes been supposed. Denying that Plato advocates 'good art' in any modern sense, this book seeks both to understand Plato's critique in the context of his own philosophy and to locate him in today's philosophy of art, showing how issues in aesthetics arise from responses to his charges. Plato's questions about beauty, emotion, representation, ethical knowledge, artistic autonomy, and censorship are of contemporary relevance as formerly secure assumptions about the value of art and the aesthetic come under scrutiny. Images of Excellence is written not only for readers working in ancient philosophy, but for all who are interested in aesthetics, art theory, and literary theory.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Janaway strikes a fine balance between lucid exposition of the texts, explanation of standard and alternative views and relevant aesthetic theory, and his own interpretations, which grow out of this carefully cultivated ground....This is a stimulating, enlightening, highly intelligent and well written book."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Janaway's study of Plato's "critique of the arts" is a timely and readable analysis of a notoriously complex subject."--Classical World

"Janaway succeeds admirably in reawakening us to the depth of Plato's critique of the arts..."--Ancient Philosophy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198237921
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/3/1998
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Rhapsody
2. Arts, Crafts, and the Production of Pleasure
3. The Fine and the Beautiful
4. The Formation of Character
5. Mimesis
6. Against Mimetic Poetry
7. Myth, Madness, Pleasure, and Play
8. Plato and the Philosophy of Art
Bibliography
Glossary
Indexes

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