The Carpenter as a Philosopher Artist: a Critique of Plato's Theory of Mimesis

Philosophy Pathways 222 (1) (2018)
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Plato’s theory of mimesis is expressed clearly and mainly in Plato’s Republic where he refers to his philosophy of Ideas in his definition of art, by arguing that all arts are imitative in nature. Reality according to him lies with the Idea, and the Form one confronts in this tangible world is a copy of that universal everlasting Idea. He poses that a carpenter’s chair is the result of the idea of chair in his mind, the created chair is once removed from reality and since a painter’s chair is imitation of a carpenter’s chair, it is twice removed from reality. Thus, the artist deals in illusion. Plato thus rejected imitative art on the foundation that it is a copy or imitation of the unreal. We may ask; if the Carpenter makes a chair, what does he imitate? And if he imitates reality, can we call him an artist of a kind? This article therefore argues following Plato’s analogy that carpentry is an art of a kind and a carpenter is capable of knowing reality as against the notion that only philosophers are suitable for such a task
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