By Monroe C. Beardsley
“Beardsley’s booklet accomplishes to perfection what the author meant. It illuminates a space of heritage from a definite point of view as used to be by no means performed prior to. . . . The distinguishing function of his ebook is a n pleasure over every thing I aesthetics that has to do with symbols, meanings, language, and modes of interpretation. And this pleasure has delivered to mild elements of the background f the topic by no means spotted prior to, or at the very least, now not so clearly.”
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Extra info for Aesthetics from Classical Greece to the Present
Individual things-statues, people, horses-exhibit this quality in variable ways: some are more beautiful than others, some lose their beauty after a time, some appear beautiful to one person but not to another (Republic 479a). But besides the changing beauties of the many concrete things in the world, there must be one Beauty that appears in them all (Symposium 2 lOb, Republic 476, 479, Phaedo 78de, Phaedrus 250b). This is the essential Form of Beauty, absolute Beauty, not seen with the eyes but grasped conceptually by the "mind alone" (Phaedo 65, 75 d ).
But there is also beauty in simple things-that is, elementary qualities of sense experience. "Audible sounds which are smooth and clear, and deliver a single series of pure notes, are beautiful, not relatively to something else, but in themselves" (Philebus 5Id); and similarly with colors: pure white, not a large expanse of it, is "the truest of all white things, and the fairest too" (53ab). Moreover, simple geometrical figures-"something straight, or round, and the surfaces and solids which a lathe, or a carpenter's rule and square, produces from the straight and round" (5Ic)are also absolutely and eternally beautiful.
Thus his painting is not as true as a blueprint or diagram that might be used to record and convey the actual structure of the bed, without regard to superficial similarity. Semblances are illusory, they are misrepresentations or false imitations, not only of reality, but even of actuality. That is why the painting of the house is "a man-made dream for waking eyes"-it belongs in the same class with actual dreams and perceptual illusions, which are all false appearances. Plato 37 These reflections suggest another distinction important to Plato, which he makes sharp use of in other connections, when Socrates is battling the Sophists.