Learnings from Plato's Republic

History repeats itself and Plato about Arts

History repeats itself. And people forget about history. There is no easy fix. It is easy to think that wars are in the past, that society has changed and it will never happen again. As memory fades, Gaia’s events from the past can become events of the present. The more things change, the more they stay the same. What we are seeing is that ‘digital’ acts as a magnifier, and accelerator. The problem is still the same. The isolation of East and West, North and South. Wealth inequality is a social and civic conversations that is not new but that has been catalysed through digital media.

manuscript from the 3rd century AD, containing fragments of Plato's Republic.

Manuscript from the 300 AC, containing fragments of Plato's Republic.

Plato in the Republic rejects any form of illusionism in art. He calls it mimesis or ‘imitation’. This has also created a question what is the Greek word “mimesis”? And why does this matter?

What we have not full knowledge of, we cannot reproduce. Presumably this is the reason why all the monotheistic religions (Protestant Christianity, Islam, Judaism) had an explicit problem with art and artists trying to imitate the knowledge of , its image, his son, soul, Universe, etc. The imitation occurs in many instances, when an artist uses a portrait of a dead person to recreate his-own interpretation of the person. But Plato goes beyond it.

Art and Manipulation

Only through the direct observation one can exercise an ability to learn, observing the reality through the eyes of others, through movies, cartoons, or even just through reading books can become dangerous and manipulated.

Title page of the oldest manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1807

Title page of the oldest manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1807

It was technology that made Hitler’s words visible to a wider public: radio, newspaper and, first black and white movie trailers. The democratic countries in Europe and US over the last two centuries grew apart. The north and south division has increased.

 Art and Subconsciousness

America entered their New Industrial Golden age, dominated by a small number of technology companies. In the European Industrial Age the various monopolies oppressed farmers and citizens but eventually – after a few decades – that economic model collapsed. Today, how many people realize that Amazon is the number one of E-commerce market all over the planet? Today, how many people realise that Facebook is a censoring machine or that Google is changing search results to maximize revenue?

In the 2020s, very few people understood the Microsoft and Amazon monopoly. Over the last couple of centuries there has been remarkable human progress in health, education, safety yet how many people realise that the US doesn’t have free schooling and that this paid model is increasingly becoming Europe’s reality? How many people realise that it is the same with the health system that we in Europe have taken for granted.

Plato argues his concern about letting “improvisers” into the Ideal State is with a model of justice to be realized both in the single man and in the city.

All through the human history people have imitated each other, repeating each other’s words, “become each other”.

Plato says that the soul or some part of it could be imitated (Republic), the concept later discovered by Jung researching our brain’s subconscious matter or what our ancestors, including St. Paul named “by Spirit inspired messages”. As Plato says, through fake art the “imitation” takes place in an indirect way.

By copying a person in his behaviour one becomes like him, in one’s soul. This imitation is lexis. This is a mental state Plato warns us about.

The question asked is whether the guardians of the well-governed city should be ‘imitative’ (mimetikoi) or not. Whether one should imitate a King, for example? The reply was better not to imitate anybody, but if imitation cannot be avoided, this imitation should be restricted to positive models, constituted by people who are brave, moderate, pious.

During the last 200 years, various new technologies pushed through and as abuses became evident, counter action pushed back with new legislative actions, and civic organizations. Personal autonomy and individual rights battled against security technological benefits. Whether the responses to change are for the better or worse, depends on the current level of education and awareness.

What the open-source software movement did for business was create giants like Microsoft, many engineers working for free for the same goal, Internet, so the University will prosper, yet the revenue is streaming into the US multi-million-dollars companies. The same happened with all the industries. The groups of pioneering software coders are developing tools for gaming industry. Using or abusing the young work-force? A new generation of citizen are using software, the old generation of money maker freaks are still at the head of the pyramid benefiting.

In one scene, Plato is convinced that the poet deceives the public in at least two ways: (a) by giving a nice appearance by using metre, musical rhythms, etc.; (b) by giving the impression that he possesses a knowledge which he does not really possess. This is seen by Plato as being like falling under the spell of a magician. Exactly as our politicians, pure magicians!

How to break the circle, of this induced magic non-violently? Supporting true values, respecting Gaia, listening to classics, respecting silence, encouraging performing arts, resurrecting book industry, paying proper salaries to the poor, rebuilding the trust, opening the borders, going back to nature, cultivating own food, refusing to be deceived, hypnotised, led, back to the individual empowerment, work on family encoding, friendships. Work on political de-coding. Reducing the difference between East and West, North and South. Philosophically, psychologically, ideologically become AnX, Cross, Xrist. Happy creation of new friendships!

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