NAME: Nidhi R. Jasani
ROLL NO. : 18
PAPER NO. 3, literary Theory & criticism
ENROLLMENT NO.: PG14101018
TOPIC: Plato's objection to poem & Aristotle reply
SUBMITTED TO: M. K. B. U.
Smt. S .B. Gardi Department of English
Plato belongs to the classical age in Greek literature Plato was a thinker, philosopher and reason was dominated in his personality. Aristotle was a follower of Plato. Aristotle was the most distinguished disciple of Plato- was a critic scholar and practical philosopher, but Aristotle defers from many point
Plato’ objection to poem
Plato in his famous book ‘The republic’ talks about the nature of poetry and the function of poetry as well. Plato thinks that poets are inspired and inspiration is illogical. He says that poets are possessed by divine madness and their imaginative mind. Plato was also the lover of truth and he tried to find out the final truth, by thinking over the question “what is real?” Plato says that poets are liars and they speak lie through their poems. They present false god in poetry and there by encourage false hood among people. Plato says that the poet misguides people and they provoke evil ideas in people’s mind hens poet should banished from the ideal state. Plato classified two ruling powers as visible and the intelligible. The former includes shadows, images reflection etc. the later includes reason or intellectual. He says that ideas are real and physical things are unreal. He says that “poetry is an imitation of an imitation twice removed from reality.” When he commented upon poetry, he had in mind the two great epics of Homer. They are “Eliot” and “the odyssey” Plato also read the Greek tragedy of Sophocles and Euripides. He love classical work of these poets but for him truth was a prime concern. Plato says that is an imitation. He gives the example of three kinds of beds and says that all fine arts are imitative by nature. He gives the word mimesis for imitation. He says that the idea of bed is a cheated by the almighty god so the god or nature. The second type of bed is prepaid by the carpenter from wood. According to Plato the carpenter’s bed is the imitation of the god’s idea of bed. The third type of bed is a painter’s bed. The painter paint the bed looking at the carpenter’s bed and so it is the imitation of an imitation. Similarly when the poet writes a poem, he takes the help of his imagination and he writes the poem based on the experience of the physical world which is not real. Plato says that the truth is ideational. Plato defies poetry and poets and says that they are devoid of truth. Plato also gives an example of imitative narration in book 3 of the Republic. He takes example from Homer’s “The Iliad” in which priest chrysies urges. In this reference Homer speaks on behalf of chrysies himself. The narration becomes imitative on the other hand if Homer uses the direct method and tells about chrysies to reader directly, the narration become a simple one.
Plato observes that in all epics and classical poetry narration tends to be imitative. When we read Plato’s comment on poets and poems, we come across three aspects of Plato’s personality.
(1) Plato as philosopher: says that the real is the ideational.
(2)Plato as moralist: Plato worried about the conflict between the good and bad, and says that the poet should avoid depicting evil character in their poems. He says that only virtuous people should be taken as characters in literary work. As moralist Plato was the lover of truth and for him knowing truth was only object of his life. Plato considers poetry useful only as a means of achieving this state that is, only useful if it helps one to become a batter person, and if it does not, it should be expelled from the community. He states that, the good poet cannot compos well unless he knows his subject. And he who does not have this knowledge can never be a poet. Plato says of imitative poetry and homer, men is net to be reverenced more than the truth. Plato says this because he believes that homer speaks of many things of which he has no knowledge; just as the painter who paints a picture of a bed does not necessary know how to make bed. His point is that in order to copy of a imitate correctly, one must have knowledge off the original. Plato says that imitation is twice removed from the truth. Stories that are untrue have no value, as no untrue story should be told in the city. He says that nothing can be learned from imitative poetry.
(3)Plato as social reformer: Plato though about the welfare of society in which he was born and brought up. He visualized that ideal state in which he wanted to prepare ideal citizens. Plato says that the stories which affect the minds of the children adversely should not be allowed. The bad literature spoils the mind of people and such literature is not worthy to be called literature at all. Plato says that there should be censorship on literary works and those works that depict vices of human life should be discarded.
· Aristotle’s reply
He seems to be more open minded and liberal in thinking about poetry and poets. He was known for his critical treatise 1) The Poetics 2) The Rhetoric dealing with art of poetry and art of speaking. Plato speaks as if he were a strict puritan, where as he welcome all the innovative ideas regarding poetry. Aristotle has written the book entitled “The poetics” in which he was commented upon the nature and function of poetry. He talks about all fine arts in general. He not only talks about poetry but also about painting and music. The poetic is not merely commentary or judgment on the poetic art. When Aristotle discusses poetry, menace all literary forms like Epic, Tragedy, Comedy etc. he discus the six part of tragedy. He talks about nature and function of tragedy, Role of plot in tragedy and the theory of catharsis. He talks about the three unities, unity of time, unity of place, unity of action. Aristotle says that plot is the soul of tragedy.
Aristotle begins his discourse by admitting that all arts are imitation. In other words Aristotle says that all arts are inevitable representational. Aristotle agrees with Plato in calling poet an imitator and creative art, imitation. He imitates one of the three objects things as they were things as they are said /thought to be or things as they ought to be. In other words imitates what is part of present, what is commonly believed and what is ideal. Aristotle believes that there is natural pleasure in imitation. It is this pleasure in imitation that enables the child to learn his earliest lesson in speech and conduct from those around him. Aristotle does not agree with Plato in- ‘pets imitation is twice removed from reality and hence illusion of truth. To prove his point he compares poetry with history. He says that poetry is an imitation of an imitation twice removed from reality but it is not the carbon copy of the physical things. He says that if poet gives something less than life, Plato missed to see that art conveys something more than life. According to Aristotle a thinking in seen in a work of art from the poet’s pint of view and the poet conveys his vision of life in a work of art. He says that these fine arts defer from one another in three ways. They are difference of kind in their means of difference is in the objector in the manner of their imitation.
Aristotle was the follower of Plato but he was not agreeing with Plato in some point. Plato gives theory of imitation and he also says that poets are liar they represents bad thing in poem that is why port should be banished from ideal state. Aristotle favors poet and poem. He also says that imitation is necessary for the literary work.