Culture and Society in Plato’s Republic by Myles F. Burnyeat

By Myles F. Burnyeat

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592ab, Tim. 81e ff. 69 Annas, An lntroduction t o Plato’s “Republic” 94; Alexander Nehamas, “Plato and the Mass Media,” Monist 71 (1988) : 214-34. 250 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values advertisements. These are the universal media of cultural transmission today. It is not surprising, then, that advertisements, film, and T V provoke in us the very same concern as Plato has in the Republic. Are their effects on the souls of the citizen body, especially when young, harmful or beneficial? Plato’s question “Shall we banish Homer, tragedy, and comedy?

I have already mentioned that in book X painting is the paradigm that Plato uses to explain the meaning, and the menace, of poetic mimesis. His example is a painted couch, and the point he emphasises is that the picture shows only how the couch appears when viewed from a particular angle- from the side, the front, or some other perspective (598ab). 52. 264 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values FIGURE 2. Courtesy of the British Museum. and end-on . Of all the objects that turn up in ancient Greek paintings, it is probably couches (along with cups) that are most often seen from different angles, in a fixed perspective.

From the Demiurge’s point of view, all these are “subservient causes” which help realize the goodness of his grand design (68e). 66 It is perhaps worth mentioning that many of the created items in the Timaeus are kinds or forms of some sort, not individuals. The created individuals include the cosmos itself, the intelligent heavenly bodies (the lesser gods), and individual souls. , lungs and liver: 70c, 71a). Presumably, the Sun and the other lesser gods do not intervene to make Jones’s liver one day, Smith’s the next; rather, they make the course of nature run in such a way that, in general, humans are born with a liver.

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