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Collingwood and Greek Aesthetics Author(s): Stanley H. Rosen Reviewed work(s): Source: Phronesis, Vol. 4, No.

Collingwood and Greek Aesthetics Author(s): Stanley H. Rosen Reviewed work(s):

Source: Phronesis, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1959), pp. 135-148 Published by: BRILL

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Collingwoodand GreekAesthetics





writing in The Principles of Art, has given us an

interpretationof Greek aesthetics that is worth examining in some detail.' This is true for at least two reasons. In the first place, Collingwood's work, as in most of his books, is original and provocative2 and it should be more widely studied by those who are

interested in the philosophy of art. In the second place, it is wrong, which, when combined with the ingenuity just mentioned, makes it perhapsmore worthy of inspection than many saner accounts. I hope that this judgment does not seem perverse; it is nothing other than a

reformulationof the old

whose views we reject than from those with whom we agree. I am forced to reject Collingwood's picture of the views of Plato and Aris- totle almost in their entirety, yet I believe thatIhave learnedagoodbit aboutPlatoand Aristotle in doing so; if this is so, it is only a sign of the truth which lies in platitudes, and not of any scorn for Collingwood. In the discussionwhich follows, it is my intention neither to deal adequ- ately with the whole of Collingwood'sphilosophyof art, nor with that of the Greeks. Apartfrom its intrinsic interest and the usual questions

platitude that we often learn more from those

of space, the following justificationmay be given for considering this partof Collingwood'sbook in isolation. Accordingto Collingwood, Book I of ThePrinciplesof Artcontainsthe treatise's "empiricalor descriptive work" in which "we have tried, so far, merely to repeat what everyone knows; everyone, that is, who is accustomedto dealing with art and distinguishingart proper from art falselyso-called."2 If the merely "empiricalor descriptive work" has not been correctly done, as I shall have to contend, then the theory of artpresentedin Book III,which dependsupon it, can by Collingwood's own scheme hardlybe satisfactory.The empirical work itself falls into two parts, a descriptionof what art proper is not, and a description of what it is. In discussing what art proper is not, Collingwood places muchof the stressof his "description"upona historicalstudypurporting to explainhow Greek philosophyis in part responsiblefor current er- roneous views and in part has been misinterpretedas a result of these

I Oxford, 1938. Reissuedas Galaxypaperback, g9l. All quotations are fromthe i9gS edition, hereaftef abbreviatedas P.A.

2 P.A., pp. 273,


I 3 S

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views. It therefore follows that there must be, according to Colling- wood's line of thought, a contradictionin Greek aesthetics, one partof which is wrong, and hasgeneratedthe false views which, in the course of time, havebeen turnedbackonto the part that is right by those cor- rupted by the erroneous part. Complicatedas this sounds, it is very much like his procedure,if not his explicit formulation.If Collingwood is right, then everyone, the Greeksas well as ourselves, is at least half- wrong; andin Collingwood'shands,the halfhasa distressingtendencyof becoming the whole. Before turning to the details of the argument, it may be well to present certaintechnicaltermsused by Collingwoodthroughout,some- times with dire consequences.The first involves a distinction between imitative and representationalart: "Awork of art is imitative in virtue of its relationto anotherwork of art which affordsit a model of artistic excellence; it is representativein virtue of its relation to somethingin 'nature', that is, somethingnot a work of art." I The second involves a triple distinction of false kindsof art: (a) the theory that art is a craft, like cobbling or carpentry: "the power to produce a preconceived result by meansof consciously controlledanddirected action; 2 (b) the the theory that art is magic: "Amagicalart is an art which is represent- ative andthereforeevocativeof emotion, andevokesof set purposesome emotions ratherthan others in order to dischargethem into the affairs

of practical life; "3 (c)

the theory that art is



"designedto stimulate a certain emotion (which) is intended not for dischargeinto the occupations of ordinarylife, but for enjoyment as somethingof value in itself."4 All three of these theoriesarerejected by Collingwoodas part of his empiricaltask. Collingwoodbeginsthe negativepartof his work by denyingthatart is a craft, andin connectionwith this, that it is representation.This view, still popular, he tells us, owes its origin to classicalphilosophywhich "inthis matter, as in so manyothers, hasleft so manytraceson our own (thought), both for good andfor ill. "s Let us firstlook at what he hasto say about the Greek theory of =LotrmX) T?Xvv. According to Colling- wood etXnv (like the Romanars) "meansa craft or specializedform of skill, like carpentryor smithyingor surgery."6 Now this is certainlyone of its meanings,but by no meansthe only one. It canalso nmeancraftiness in the sense of cunning: for example, in a speech of Lysiaswe readof a

I Ibid., P. 42. 2 Ibid., p. Is. 3 Ibid., p. 69.


4 Ibid., P. 78. s Ibid., P. I9. 6 Ibid., P. s.

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manwith a t6Xv- foradulter). I Or it can refer to a way in which some- thingis acquired, "withoutanydefinitesense of art or craft."z Further- more, just as in Englishthere is a differencebetween a craftlike cobbling andanartor knacklike fishing(asusedwith regardto amateurfishermen), and just as there is a differencebetween arts like fishingand arts like flute-playing,so too do these differences exist in Greek. What unites these various-instancesin Englishis that all are manifestationsof "tech- nique," an abstractterm which refers to a skilled nmannerof doing, but

to no specific manner: the manner varies from case to case. The same is

true in Greek. To have a 'xv-1 is to be able to do something


and tCXvmL

like cobbling, carpentryetc,, arenot the only kindsof skilful

activity. Collingwood translates xcxvn, then, in an erroneously rigid manner; perhaps he has been misled by the word "technical," which he does not want to be associated with art proper, and which is nowadays usually applied to activities even more complex than cobbling. But there is, so to speak, a non-technical use of the term. The matter is made clear

by thinking of the colloquial English uses of the word "technique." Just as Lysias speaks of a r'xv- in adultery, so do we say of a man that his "technique" in love is excellent. And just as we could not equate a love "technique" with a cobbler's "technique" without misunderstand- ing or blurring the meaning of this abstract term, so too would it be an

error to equate the reXvyq of a poet with that of a cobbler,

to say thereby that the poet exhibits the same manner of skilful acting

as does a cobbler. But this is what Collingwood would make of the

Greek view, and he is wrong in so "describing" it. Poets and cobblers both practice teXvat but their techniques are radically different.

if we meant

What is the case, however,

is that Plato and Aristotle describe the

poet as a ,uLd'-n)q or imitator, just as the craftsman (in Collingwood's

sense of the term) is said to be an imitator.

Poetry and craftsmanship are

both techniques which share the characteristic of imitating, but it hardly follows from this that the 'rexv- of the poet is equivalent to the rexv- of the craftsman. A large share of Collingwood's objections to the view of notvLtx)LX re'Xv are based upon this misunderstanding. The term 'rxv-

has a whole spectrum of specific meanings, and if Collingwood wishes to exclude art from all of these meanings, then he must deny that there is any skill involved in practicing "art proper." That he is very nearly involved in this absurdity, I hope to show in a subsequent study of his description of the "facts"of art.






Liddell & Scott,

UnabridgedGreek-EnglishLexicon, gth Edition.

I 37

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Meanwhile,restrictingourselvesto an inspectionof his description of Greek aesthetics, we turn to an error concerningPlato's theory of art. Collingwood correctly observesthat, in the third book of the Republic, Socratesdistinguishesbetween imitative or mimetic and non-imitative narrativein poetry. I As this passageis of considerableimportance to Collingwood, we must examineit for a moment. The passageis too long to transcribein its entirety, but here is a resume: Socratessaysthat all poetry is a narrativeabout the past, present, and future, and that some narrativeis simple and some imitative (&itci 'ffpIaLe and 'LIya 8W. ~LL a7ewq). That is, sometimes the poet narrates the experiences of others in his own voice, and this is imitative narrative;when the poet distinguisheswhathe hasexperiencedfromwhatothershaveexperienced, this is simple narrative.The question is now whether to allow one or both or a mixture of these two forms of narrative in the best city. The conclusion is that we are to allow a mixture: mainly it will be

simplenarration,but a smallpartmaybe imitativewhen it is a good man thatis the subject of imitation. When the person imitated is bad, then imitative narrativeis undesirable,for obvious reasons. This judgment about art is in line with the view that men cannotimitate manythings well, thatis, that each manhashis own businessto perform, and should stick to it. Since a partof this businessin every case is to be virtuous, it is sometimes permissible to imitate virtuousacts. From this Collingwood infers that for Plato, some art is mimetic and some art is not mimetic. The question, however, is what is meant by mimetic in this whole discussion. In the literal sense, there can be no doubt that Collingwood is right. But the following observationmay be made. Collingwood himself has shown us that mimesis may have two meanings:imitationand representation.Socratesmaymeanby mimetic narrativehere a narrationin which one representsoneself as someone else, and by simple narrativea narrationin which one does not so re- presentoneself. Ifthis interpretation,or somethinglike it, hasanymerit, it would mean that Socratesis here using ,dpuaLg in a specialisedrather than in a general sense. Or, should this appearto be over-subtle, we might saymerely that Socratesby his own statementhasnot yet worked out the details of his argumenthere, and so that the details concerning

mimesis will receive their full treatment in

Collingwood,aswe shallsee, wantsto deny.) Now the questionwhether there is anyreasonto subjectthis passageto what maylook like casuistry

Book X.2 (It is this which





d s ff.


d 7 ff.


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cannot be answereduntil we make up our mind about what is said in BookX. If the literal reading of the passage in BookIIIis consonantwith Socrates'finalpositionin BookX, then there is no problemandColling- wood is entirely right. I will now show, however, that this is not the case; that the literal readingin Book IIIis contradictedby the literal readingin Book X, despite Collingwood's claims.This is enoughfor us

not enough for us to understandPlato.

I canonly showhere that either some such interpretationas I have sug-

gested is required, or there is a clear-cut contradictionin the

whether it is or is not susceptible of resolution on a deeper level, on

to reject Collingwood,but it is


this alternative,I cannotnow enter into, but hope that my analysiswill contributesomethingto sharpeningthe questioninvolvedandexhibiting those of its complexities which are blurredby Collingwood.

According to

Collingwood, an "unprejudiced"reading of Book X

in Greek (he rightly mistruststranslations)shows that Socrates (again) distinguishesbetween mimetic and non-mimetic poetry, and, in this severer context, nevertheless banishes only mimetic poets from the city. This is simplynot correct. For, by following Collingwood'sadvice and looking at the Greek text, we find that Socrates now explicitly definespoetry as mimetic:

(Pau -X'

M 9cxpau)xcp




[ fLLlrnT)16X. VEotxev.


3' Cye?,



&XOi5v,'v 8- Trol'atv


iovov, -

Xod xata


"Etxo6y', e,

xal raufv.,

In other words, poetry is explicitly defined as imitation by sound xoata r-Jv &xoiAqv. This passage is never cited by Colling- wood, although it is crucial for understanding the passages to which he

does allude. It is especially puzzling to find this reference missing, in the face of a sudden burst of Greek quotations: he does cite, in a learned

footnote, two passages before ours and three

6o6 a 6; 607 b 2,6) where he says that poetry is critically discussed without being specified as "representational" - i.e. mimetic - poetry. Collingwood says: "In every case except one, the qualification is obvi- ously implied in the context. (Little wonder, we may interpolate, in light of the definition of poetry just noted.) The one exception (607 b 6), though a very interesting passage, is not one that affects the present dis- cussion. "2 Collingwood's accuracy becomes further suspect when we note that at 6oo e g, poetry is specified as mimetic, and his argument

after it (6oo e 5; 6o I a 4;



b 4

I P.A., p. 48, p.



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hopelessly confused when we further observe that at 607 b 2-6 (interest- ingly separated by Collingwood as two passages rather than given as one), the whole passage is extremely relevant. In it, Socrates states that we were right to expel poetry (unqualified) from the city, such being her nature ('rota'rrvJ oi'aov) - i.e. that she is mimetic. It is not nmimetic poetry in opposition to some other poetr), which is being expelled, but rather poetry which is being expelled because it is mimetic. This is clear from Socrates' allusion to the long-standing quarrel between philo- sophy and poetry. As the whole argumnentshows, the quarrel is over the claim to knowledge. And poetry, since it merely imitates, does not, ac- cording to Socrates, knou about the things which it imitates. Poetry's nature is mimetic; as such, it makes a false claim to knowledge, and so, as partisans of philosophy, we nmustexpel it from the city. This issue will shortly be raised again.


lates within the laws of grammar, but in such a way as is not only not

required by the sense of the words, but which is incompatible with

Socrates' argument. At 607 c 5, Socrates says that "pleasure-producing poetry and inmitation"will be accepted once miore if it has arguments to defend itself from the charges brought against it. Collingwood translates:


let us notice

one last passage which Collingwood

"poetry for pleasure's sake, i.e.


The Greek reads:

7rp68 '8OVv ltTjLX xxat L L[)at. Now, xcd can mean id est, but its usual meaning in such a context is "and"; there would be no reason to

think of id est here, given the whole context, unless we were trying to

read Collingwood's

has now been disproved, with respect to Book X. It should now be evident why I was worrying the meaning of ,uuvcaL4in the passage summarized from Book Ill. If we may take the argument just preceding as established, then, as I pointed out, we must either face a contradiction in the Republic,or resolve it, either very subtly or very simply. I have suggested a simple solution, and must let the matter

stand there. I turn now to a second point at which Collingwood is apparently justified in part of his interpretation. At 607 a ff., Socrates seems to contradict the whole surrounding argument by saying that some forms of poetry will be allowed to remain in the city. The Greek


interpretation into the text.

But this interpretation






&rr oaov


[IJvou4 Ozozi




7M0CWX rXpOC&CxTr&OvrCI7ro'?LV.



"one must know that of poetrv only such hymns to the gods and

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encomia to the good may be admitted to the city." What this means is

that poetry as an independent endeavor has been banished from the city; certain poems which are consistent with the moral and political character

of the city - in

retained. There is no real contradiction here, although I grant that the language is confusing because Socrates has not bothered to invent a new term for propaganda-art, which is certainly quite different from the art which hasbeen expelled. But let us recall the passage in the Laws, where- in the Athenian stranger says that the laws of the city will be its lyric poetry. I It is in this sense that the present passage must be understood. The nature of poetry, as practiced by unregulated poets, which caused it to be banished from the cit), is perfectly useful when it is employed as a tool of the city. Most important, however, is the fact that, by re- taining some poems within the city, it is not thereby argued that these poems are no longer mimetic. At the very least, Collingwood would have to admit that, if he is right about Book III, then he is wrong about Book X, since the poems retained, as encomia to the good and hymns to the gods, obviously satisfy the criterion of good imitative narrative laid down in Book III. So far, then, we have discussed Collingwood's analysis of art as XVJ, and of Plato's theory of the mimetic nature of art. In the arguments to be considered next, these errors are combined in a way which generates further misinterpretations, and which culminates in an omission of what is Plato's major point with respect to art. Collingwood says that Plato and Aristotle "took it for granted that poetry, the only art which they discussed in detail, was a craft," that is, a craft like cobbling, carpen- tering or weaving. "The poet is a kind of skilled producer; he produces for customers; and the effect of his skill is to bring about in them certain states of mind, which are conceived in advance as desirable states. The poet, like any other kind of craftsman, must know what effect he is aiming at, and must learn by experience and precept, which is only the imparted experience of others, how to produce it"2. This view of art is said to be the predominant, if not the only, Greek view: "There are suggestions in some of them, especially in Plato, of a quite different view, but this is the one which they have made familiar, and upon which both the theory and the practice of the arts has for the most part rested down to the present time."3

other words, which can serve as propaganda - will be

I Laws, 8 ii 2 P.A. p. 3 Ibid., P.

C-D; 817 B ff.




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There are at least two thingsradicallywrong here. First: let us assume that the Greekshad only one major view of art - namely thatit is yTj. Here Collingwood's rigid translationof the term leads him to misread

the Greeks. It is the point both in the Apologyand in the tenth book of


imitator,is inferiorto the craftsmanwho makes things like shoes and tables, or to the skilled general who leads men in action, or to the political leader, and so forth. We have only to turn to the Greek text

to see what the case is. Let us take it as establishedby our previous argumentthat, in the last book of the Republic,-all poetry is mimetic.

Socratesexplains, in terms of his theory of Ideas,that the user of an art-

ifice is the one who may be

maker (i.e. the craftsmanas

is carefullydistinguishedfromthepoetor imitator,whohasleastknowledgeof

Republic,to mention the most famousinstances,that the poet, as an

expected best to understandit, and not its Collingwood uses the term.) Butthemaker

all. Plato writes:

ou're &pOCE?a't

09XL Oe

,tp4s x&XBo4YN7tOVtpW.











'o?'V `

7r0t4)GE& AJ1-TLXOq





av vuLL[LY

oPECV srpl Jv &v notj.

In the rest of this crucial passage, it is elicited that the imitator, having

no knowledgeof anyvalueconcerningwhathe imitates (rOv -r






xTv vLLteZ-ou) is,





third from the truth (-s ae 81& ,LuteutaOLIoUTo oi 7rEpl rpio v pvTi.6Tv LV Mno-rTq &?)rn0OLmx;).Collingwood collapses two distinctions in reporting on Plato's theory of art. First, it is true that the word for poet (7otoLrrq) means "maker," being derived from the verb "to make" (noLmw). But it is quite clear now that Plato wants to distinguish two kinds of making, that of the craftsman and that of the poet. Second, and related to this, both the poet and the craftsman are imitators, but again they practise two distinct kinds of imitation. The craftsman (or the man of action) imitates the Idea, whereas the poet imitates the artifact or the action. The collapse of these distinctions probably follows from the initial misinter-

pretation of


issue of art pivots upon the central problem of

knowledge. Plato is not writing (nor Socrates speaking) as an aesthe- tician, but as a political philosopher. The question here, then, is of the

political function of art, and ultimately, of its epistemological status.

Further, the whole



a 8 if.


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As the reference, cited above, to the ancient quarrel between philo- sophy and poetry makes clear, and as all of Socrates' discussions of art

support, the artist is subject to the delusion that his

equivalent to the possession of knowledge, and this is a delusion usually

shared by the artist's audience. Since, from Socrates' viewpoint, the artist does not know, and rather tends to corrupt his audience because of the persuasiveness and pleasantness of art, he must be expelled from the

best city; art will be practiced now by the guardians or priests in accord

does Socrates suggest that craftsmen (as

such) should be expelled from the city; it is the poet or artist who must go, and for the reasons given. The poet's lack of knowledge makes his t&epv- politically dangerous in a way that the texv- of the craftsman is not; even should the craftsman, who is also an imitator, be subject to the delusion that he knowsby imitating, he has not got the power of persuading his fellow citizens of this error. Who would take seriously

with right reason. I Nowhere

r6yy- for making is

a cobbler's claims that cobbling is really philosophy? But that the poet's claims are very, very seriously regarded, we need not take Socrates' word; we have only to consider the role of the artist in contemporary society.

r?yvy of the craftsman from that of

the artist. But there is a second difficulty here. The view that art is a Texv1 in any sense is by no means the only, qr even the most exclusively important, of the views present in Plato's dialogues. Equally, perhaps even more famous, and in the long run at least as influential, is the view that art is not a -rXywv' at all, but rather divine inspiration. This theory is developed in the Ion. It is related to the preceding theory with respect to epistemology: once again it will emerge that the artist has no real knowledge. In interrogating the rhapsode Ion, Socrates proceeds to develop the argument that, in order to judge speeches about things, we must first be experts about the things themselves 2 Poets - and rhap- sodes - speak of many things, about none of which they are expert. When we want to know about medicine, we consult a doctor; when we want to know about war, we consult a general, and so on. But we never consult the poet about these things, even when he imitates perfectly war or sickness. And should we wish to know about poetry itself, we

Thus far I have tried to separate the

to speak and write 'reXvLxtq; one

must know the differentnaturesof the men & the kindsof argumentto which they will respond, when to speak and when to keep silent, etc. In other words, one must be a

I See Phaedrus 271

C ff. for a description of how


Compare 277 B-C.


Ion, S3

b ff.


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would consult, not a manwho is a good reciter of Homer, for instance, but one who knows about poetry as such, by skill and systematic knowledge (t6Xwvjn xoc ia npv).I When we do interrogatepoets on the mattersaboutwhich they write, we findthat they do not understand them (asSocratesrecounts in the Apology).How, then, do poets make poems.?It cannot, as we havejust seen, be by rxv, for then they would know the thingswhich they areable to describe. (It is now assumedthat

a reXvLrq has some knowledgeabout his production, probablywhat is

called secondaryknowledge in the Republic -

better than that of

not true knowledge, but

the poet). The answeris this:

Vrowreq yap



xoaL xCtCx6VoL






oux 'ex




TMUOC T& XoXO AeyoUaL 7Mt0LY)paLo,





"Allgood epic poets speakall their beautifulpoems, not from craft, but

through their being inspired and possessed, and the same is true for good-

lyric poets."2The poet must be E`XcppoV (out of his mind) before he can




ad =OL-?yol ou8E'v &'

the poets speak as messengers for the gods (oA


dLai trv

Os@v); the god himself speaks


OE64 oc4

E'LV OXeycow) .3

that poets are divinely inspired, then, denies that art is a

r6xvn, but, like that view, also denies that the poet has knowledge. The first part of this view (the second is usually forgotten) has had a con- siderable influence in the history of aesthetics, both in its orthodox and in its more extravagant interpretations. That Plato does not take it liter-

ally is, I think, clear from the bantering tone of the whole dialogue.

(This is of course not to say that it has no significance for Plato.) We may note one decisive passage. Socrates says to Ion at 53 2 d 6:

The view






rok7roL .Lcxroc,sy&) 8K oi'rv





xac U,7txpLTML

xod &v up?L



otov CLxbo L86Y TV


"You rhapsodes and actors,

and the poets whose work you sing, are wise,

but I speak nothing else than the truth, as is fitting to an ordinary man." That the poets are not aoyop6 requires little argument; in the Socratic doctrine, not even the philosopher can make this claim. The aocplO of the poet would, of course, be that of the gods who speak through his lips. But if the poets speak coypEo, whether it is theirs or not, we ought to study their divinely inspired poems rather than the mundane treatises of

lI Ibid., 532 c 6.

2 Ibid.,

3 Ibid., S34dff.





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philosophers and other "technicians." Nowhere does Socrates say that we are to do this; his instructions are exactly the reverse. As a lover of wisdom, we may safely assume that Socrates does not then believe the poets to speak it, and so we are not to take literally his injunction that they are divinely inspired. What he is really saying, for better or for worse, is that poets are ignorant, and that their ignorance is akin to madness. I This does not mean that he denies their great gifts, but simply that his concern with poetry, as in all the dialogues, is epistemo- logical.

never refer to this theory of art as divine

Why does Collingwood

inspiration? It would be base to suggest that he omits it because it does not suit his interpretation; and in fact, it could actually be made har- monious with one aspect of that interpretation. If artists are said to be divinely inspired because one wishes to account for their ignorance,

and consequently for their danger to society, we might rejoin that this is to misunderstand the function of art proper, which, as Collingwood

holds, serves no political end. This is one criticism which he enjoins against Plato, who, he says, discusses amusement art, which I have defined above as the stimulation of an emotion for pleasure in itself, not for release into practical life. And Plato was wrong, he continues, to think that "the evils of a world given over to amusement could be cured by controlling or abolishing amusements. "2 Presumably the error is corrected by Aristotle in the Poetics,who speaks there as the champion of "poetry for pleasure's sake, that is, representation" (Republic607 c), called for by Socrates at 607 d. Apart from the errors already discussed, it is missing Plato's most important point not to see that he explicitly criticizes all art, and that the distinction between imitative and other narratives in Book III of the Republic rests upon a different, more "technical," and so, less general usage of the word. Thus, Collingwood is mistaken in thinking (a) that Plato does not

(whether he does so correctly or not is another

matter), and (b) that Plato wants to criticize, of the false kinds of art, not "magic" or religious, but only "amusement" art. Contrary to Col-

discuss "art proper"

lingwood's assurance, Plato's criticism is intended to hold up against magic art, which, we recall, is representative and evokes specific emotions in order to discharge them into practical life. In many ways,

I It is often the case that philosophers(such as Spinozaand Maimonides),in attributing prophecy to the imagination,find a correspondingdepreciationin the intellect of the prophet. 2P.A. p. 98.



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this is the least comprehensible of Collingwood's errors, because it is precisely against the effect of art on "the affairs of practical life" that Plato is legislating. It seems safe to say that, if art had no such effect, Plato would not have expelled it from his best city. Plato may, of course, have confused magical art with art proper, but Collingwood would still be wrong in his reading of Plato. Certainly Plato did not think that art proper has no consequences in practical affairs. To decide whether Plato or Collingwood is right would be the subject of a long and separate inquiry. We may not care to agree with Plato, but we must see that he is, as a political philosopher, a radical enemy of art, or what comes to the same thing, of philosophically unlegislated art. This position of Plato's has nothing to do with his own status as an artist, or as a lover of and commentator on art. It has to do with the place of art in the best city, and because Collingwood does not appreciate this, he is led to the absurd view that, for Plato, poetry is equivalent to shoe-making, to the confusion of Plato's extremely complex analysis of the epistemological character of art, and to a misunderstanding of the relation between the work of Aristotle and that of Plato with respect to art. Aristotle could not possibly be the sort of defender that Collingwood

suggests he is, because Aristotle's subject in the Poeticsis quite different

from Plato's subject

cerned to show the epistemological clharacter of art, nor the place of art in the best city, but gives instead an analysis (limited, perhaps) of the function of art (through the most important - for him - example of poetry) in actual cities. When Aristotle comes to discuss the place of art in the best city, as he does in Books VII-VIIIof the Politics, his posi- tion is in essence, though not in degree, that of Plato: art has as its end, not merely amusement, but moral training, and as such it must be sub- ject to political restrictions. I will not quarrel with Collingwood that, in Aristotle's case, art is described as a t6xv, for Aristotle has no theory

of art as inspiration - i.e. as atechnical. But we must recall our previous discussion of the meaning of the term eyxv-. Aristotle is if anything more insistent than Plato in differentiating activities according to their func-

tion. If we consider only the doctrine that the end of art is xVoxapaLq, it is

in the Republic.In the Poetics, Aristotle is

not con-

clear that the -rxvn of art is

for example, which has as its end the repairing of shoes. When we turn to the Politics, we find that xa&ocpa6L is only one end of art; another is instruction (-aLc). Aristotle, contrary to Collingwood, does not limit xacOapatc to "amusement art" or representational drama. Art-

I See for examplethe distinctionwith respect to the use of the flute at 3 +i a 38.

radically different from the -TxV-of cobbling,


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forms may share a plurality of ends, depending upon the context of their use. Flute-playingmay amuse,purify or instruct, and how we are to behave toward it depends upon the purpose we have in mind. It is

with respect to instruction,

the same end with which Plato is always

concerned, that Aristotle recognizes the need for regulating art. In an interestingdiscussionabout the degree to which differentkinds of art- forms are able to represent states of character, he even pursues this

need with respect to art-forms which aye least representative in this way:


,L~v &XX'6aov





TOUcv OccopEav,aeZ A


llotu'ao)voOertpsv rouq Vtouq, &XXX'ra floXuyvc'Toux&vet 'nc OMor rc-Ov

ypoacp6cv ~i6v


, 11roncot6v

,crrv TOLX6O.

"But insofar as there is a difference in looking at these works, let the young not see the works of Pauson, but those of Polygnotus and any other painter or sculptor who may portray moral character. ", And that Aris-















'Wv , O\v xc't -rot'', v,a


a species






8= 'ooLZ UL6xeaV Oavoz4 EalL

"Musical compositions are in essence imitations of states of characters. This is clear."2 So far, then, Collingwood is wrong in his view of the intention of the Poetics, he is wrong about Aristotle's doctrine of XaOmpapt and he is wrong about Aristotle's doctrine of tL?aLq. This last error must be examined more carefully. Collingwood poses the question: did Aristotle think of art as "essen- tially representative?" This, as we know, is Collingwood's way of asking whether for Aristotle art is mimetic. Collingwood answers himself:

"He makes it clear at the beginning of the Poetics that he did not. He there accepts Plato's familiar distinction between representative and

" 3 We have already seen that this distinction is

not so familiar. But, we may ask, does Aristotle accept this distinction in

the Poetics regardless of whether Plato does or not? Here is the sentence which leads Collingwood to say "no":

non-representative art


Xocl T7q

rpCyc3LzX 7CO'VJaqL


XOal 4) 8LOupOLo-




OicatL t1LPL4aCL4' auVOXOV.

"Epic, tragic, comic and dithyrambic poetry, the majority of flute and lyre music, are all in general mimetic."4 Now even in the face of the



POl. 1340


a 25

a 22.

3 P.A.

p. go.

4 Poetics,





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factthatapparentlysomeformsof flute and lyre music arenot mimetic, it must be transparently clear that this exception is insufficient for invalidating the claim that Aristotle considered art "essentially representative." And there are no exceptions to the view that he considered poetry as essentiallyrepresentative.The strongest case that

Collingwood could in reason have made would be this: for Plato, not all poetry is mimetic; for Aristotle, not all music is mimetic. Were this

the case, it would not transformthe Poeticsinto a "Defence

RepresentationalPoetry" I as though Aristotle recognized any poetry which is not mimetic. As a matter of fact, Aristotle assertsin the first line that he is speakingof poetry as such (7cept -OLYTLXTJ ocu> -rTXXL ,tiovdt83v au'rr),2 all of which, to repeat, is mimetic. We have already discussed the first part of Collingwood's hypothetical case. As for the second, two lines may be taken. The first, and admittedly less satis- factory, is that the exception noted is too trivial to take seriously. It would perhapsmakemore sense to saythat those formsof flute andlyre music which are not genuinely "artistic"are not mimetic, than to con- clude that art is not essentiallyso. But fortunately,this passagedoes not standalone in the Aristoteliancorpus; we have just inspected a passage from the Politics which Collingwood does not seem to have known, in which music is declaredto be manifestlymimetic. Since this passageis utterly unambiguous,and since Aristotle never amplifieswhat he means by saying "mostflute and lyre music"in the Poetics,nor gives any exam- ples of music which is not imitative, but only of music which is, I submit that either the suggestionwhich I have made, or one something

like it - stylistic caution, perhaps- is the correct explanationof the

case. I do not insist upon my suggestedreading, but only that Colling- wood's interpretationof Aristotle's theory of art is as grosslyinaccurate as his interpretationof Plato. But finally, it should be urged that, as always, Collingwood is provocativeand valuablein his analysis,which notices what are admittedlyambiguitiesin Greek aesthetic theory.


1 P. A. p. sp.






ThePennsylvaniaState University


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