Wednesday, April 23, 2008


"In Plato's scheme, beds are ranked into three types, with differing degrees of reality. To begin with, there are the familiar beds in which we spend a third of our lives and some of the moments that define us as human: we dream, make love, are born and die in the kinds of beds that belong to the world of everyday experience. Plato postulated another world, which contains what he designated 'ideas', from which the things of everyday experience derive their forms. In Plato's philosophy, the idea of the Bed is eternal and inalterable: Every bed in the world of daily experience must embody the same basic form, however beds may differ in detail. There are finally the beds that appear in works of art - in vase paintings, for example, picturing persons doing the kinds of things people do in bed. Now bed builders must grasp the idea of the Bed and make their products conform to it. They possess practical knowledge of how beds have to be built, in order to support the bodies of those who use them. But artists who want to paint pictures of beds merely know how beds appear. They don't really know anything about beds beyond how they look.Plato argued that pictures are of the same order as dreams, shadows, reflections, and illusions: not as real as the beds in bedrooms, far less real than the Idea of Bed in the realm of Ideas.
In 1964, [...] I began to feel that the history of art had evolved to a point that Plato's distinction between the beds of art and the beds of life was no longer compelling."

Danto, Arthur C (2005), Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap between Art and Life, Columbia University Press, New York, Preface, pp. xviii/xix


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