Republic: Immorality of Art Essay
The immorality of art has been a problem in society since the characters play different roles some of which would influence society negatively. Moral societies expect that artists display high moral standards while a good artist prioritizes captivation. The artist is not concerned with what people think or what they learn but is rather concerned with how interesting his/her piece of art is to the viewers. The two contradicting priorities have made many artists display immorality. This paper is going to analyze the immorality of art as shown in Plato’s book 7.
The metaphor presented by Socrates illustrates the effects of education on human beings1. The writer describes a scene where some people are held in caves and they never see the outside. Their shadows are all they see and they even call the shadows names and thus the writer shows the low level of knowledge that the prisoners have. At this point, the writer presents the prisoners as people of low knowledge capacity and they comprehend simple things. The writer achieves to captivate the mind of the reader but, on the other hand, creates a bad picture for prisoners in real life. The writer may tend to believe that all prisoners are dumb and hence brings in a misconception in the society.
One of the prisoners escapes and realizes that the shadows in the cave were a reflection of real things. Escaping a prison is a crime and an immoral act and the person reading the book may try to escape prison if arrested at one point in their life. Socrates says that the vision of a clever wicked man might be sharper than that of a philosopher2. By saying that, Socrates undervalues education which may prompt the reader to underrate the need for education and focus on being a wicked clever man. The philosopher says that once the prisoner has gained an understanding of things in society and is no longer dumb, they must go back to the cave and rule over the others. This creates an impression to the reader that they should take advantage of people with a lesser understanding of things. Taking advantage of other people is morally wrong and hence, the piece of art is destroying the morals of society. The explanation of the philosopher about going back to the cave after seeing the light depicts that in a normal society, even after working hard and being successful in education, one will always go back to the drawing board. This argument undermines the need for education and creates a wrong impression of the society on education.
Plato says that in the past, students would study difficult subjects such as mathematics but would later not be able to pass the knowledge to other people. Plato describes Theaetetus and Eudoxus as the only people who could understand mathematic and teach it to others. He creates the impression that mathematics is hard, only a few people can understand it and that it is difficult to pass it to others. In a normal society, mathematics is a crucial subject for all courses and hence it is required that people are motivated towards it. The writer fails to motivate people and instead demoralizes those who love mathematics. The writer’s belief that dialectic should not be taught to people below thirty years may demotivate people who would like to pursue it. Plato emphasizes mathematics and despises the other subject since he believes mathematics is the only link to understanding more complicated things. The world has many careers and subjects and despising other subjects may humiliate those pursuing them, which is an immoral act.
Plato says that for one to be a philosopher they must be trained to ignore their senses and must rely on one thought. This creates the impression that in order to understand things well; one must create a lot of focus on one thing and ignore the rest. Taking such a piece of advice would limit the reader since the current world requires flexibility in different areas. The writer focuses on passing his message and understanding of things rather than creating a clear understanding of the ready.
In conclusion, the writer of the book succeeds in convincing the reader to agree with his idea. However, the writer either knowingly or unknowingly creates but impressions or convinces the reader on certain immoralities in the real world. Therefore, it is clear that an artwork can be immoral in some ways besides passing their information to the listeners or viewers.
Reference: Plato, J. Llewelyn Davies, and David James Vaughan. 1997. Republic. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions.