Essay about Plato and Aristotle's Definition of Art

1274 Words 6 Pages
Two and a half centuries ago in the Mediterranean, the definition of art was not synonymous with the term as we know it. It encompassed painting, sculpting, poetry, and all what he still recognize as art, as well as craftwork, carpentry and similar occupations. Plato was the first to address the nature of art seriously, and did so quite emphatically. Considering it unimportant and even dangerous, he denounced it. His student, Aristotle, who handled the same subject next, held incompatible and sometimes opposing views on the matter. Their views were greatly influenced by their metaphysical beliefs, as were most philosophical theories at the time. In investigating the two philosophers’ conceptions, Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone will be the …show more content…
On the other hand, Aristotle defends art by stating that the viewer receives a certain “cognitive value” from art. In other words, one gains a specific understanding of the nature of reality through the appreciation of art. Aristotle, unlike Plato, can be labelled as teleological since he evaluated objects in terms of how they reach their objective. Aristotle defines techne as ‘a capacity to make or do something with a correct understanding of the principle involved’. Plato saw it as a means to an end, and is therefore not done for its own sake. Comparatively, philosophy is knowledge for knowledge's sake. This is why, in the order of knowledge, techne ranked below any study of theoretical knowledge of principles and causes, and below practical wisdom. Knowing the principle behind an art is key to understanding what makes it good- only possible if one possessed techne. Furthermore, Aristotle breaks everything down to smaller, relational parts, but Plato is not that taxonomical and instead sees things as a whole. It is evident in his Republic, where he preaches that people neglect their self-interest in favor of the state as a whole. Aristotle responds to another of Plato’s objections about art- this time one of a moral nature. Aristotle’s tragedy, as described in the Poetics would be dismissed from Plato’s Republic because