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Resemblance: Play Between the Visible and the Invisible

  • Max Statkiewicz
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 75)

Abstract

The problem of the exact relationship between the visible and the invisible belongs to the most troubling issues not only in Plato, but in the whole tradition of Western metaphysics, which has inherited them from the Athenian philosopher. But Plato was an artist as well, with the soul of a poet and the eyes of a painter. The characters of his dialogues conceive the relationship between the visible and the invisible according to an artistic, especially painterly, pattern as resemblance or lack thereof. Resemblance becomes both the epistemological principle of the theory of anamnesis and the principle of metaphysical and political legitimation. Thus, the artist in Plato provides the philosopher with the structure of representation that governs his world and his ideal state. The Republic, which establishes the model of representation based on resemblance, has recourse to the comparison with the painter’s art when evoking the philosophers’ foundation of the ideal state: “A city could never be happy otherwise than by having its outlines drawn by the painters who use the divine pattern.” The philosophers, founders of the city, like the painters, “would take the city and the dispositions of human beings, as though they were a canvas” and “in the first place, they would wipe [it] clean, ‘purify’ (katharan poiēseian).”1 Thus, the philosophers-creators should follow the procedures of careful artists in order to secure the accuracy of their reproductions of the ideal model.

Keywords

Family Resemblance Soccer Field Mere Appearance Careful Artist Epistemological Principle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Plato, Republic, p. 500e.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Plato, Republic, p. 595a ff.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See for example the famous remark of Achilles to Odysseus during the latter’s descent to the underworld in the eleventh book of the Odyssey (484-491): he would rather be the servant of a poor man on earth than the lord over the dead in Hades.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    “The task of modern philosophy has been defined: to overturn Platonism.” Gilles Deleuze, Difference et répétition (Paris: P. U. F., 1968), p. 82; English translation by Paul Patton: Difference and Repetition [henceforth DR] (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 59.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Deleuze, DR, 256.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Plato, Sophist, 231a; my translation.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    In Deleuze’s reading, Platonic family resemblance, contrary to the Wittgensteinian notion, is logically and ontologically rigorous and inflexible.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Deleuze, Gilles, “Platon et le simulacre,” in his Loqique du sens (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1969), p.293; English translation by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale: “Plato and the Simulacrum” in The Logic of Sense [henceforth LS] (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 257-258.Google Scholar
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    Deleuze, LS, p. 262.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Deleuze, LS, pp. 265f.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Michel Foucault, This Is Not a Pipe, trans. James Harkness (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), p. 54.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Michel Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum,” in Critique 282 (November 1970), pp. 902 ff.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Indeed, resemblance/similarity, dominating the episteme of the sixteenth century, was considered by Foucault as one of the principles of the classical episteme as well. See Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: Random House, 1970), Part I, especially pp. 28f, 41, 47, 51 [Les mots et les choses (Paris: Gallimard, 1966)].Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See the letters of Magritte in Michel Foucault, This is Not a Pipe, pp. 57 ff.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum,” in particular the definition of philosophy as “toute enterprise, quelle qu’elle soit, pour renverser le platonisme” (p. 885).Google Scholar
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    “Let a figure resemble an object… and that alone is enough for there to slip into the [pure] play of the painting a [n obvious] statement … ‘What you see is that’” (Michel Foucault, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, pp. 42-43; This Is Not a Pipe, p. 34).Google Scholar
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    Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum,” pp. 885 ff.Google Scholar
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    Foucault, This Is Not a Pipe, p. 44.Google Scholar
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    See Paul Ricoeur, Etre, essence et substance chez Platon et Aristote (Paris: Société d’Enseignement supérieur, 1982), p. 108.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Andrew Benjamin’s analysis of this painting and of the aesthetic and ontological aspects of the phenomenon of mirror in general in his Art, Mimesis and the Avant-Garde: Aspects of a Philosophy of Difference (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 31 ff.Google Scholar
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    Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: Logique de la Sensation (Paris: éditions de la Différence, 1981), pp. 17 ff.Google Scholar
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    Plato, Sophist, p. 234b.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Plato, Sophist, p. 236c-d.Google Scholar
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    See Pierre Aubenque, Le Problème de l’être chez Aristote (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962), pp. 98 ff., on the two kinds of the sophistic argument of the impossibility of “lying.”Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    See Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman (New York: Semiotext[e], 1983), p. 25.Google Scholar
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    Sophist, p. 240a-b, Fowler’s translation, modified; cf. p. 236a.Google Scholar
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    Sophist, pp. 239c-d and 240d.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    “But we did admit that everybody is such (toiouton kai hekateron einai) as he to whom he resembles (hoi ge homoios hekateros eié), did we not?” (Republic, p. 350c).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Plato, Sophist, p. 240b.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Martin Heidegger, Platon: Sophistes (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1992), p. 431; Plato’s Sophist, p. 297.Google Scholar
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    Plato, Sophist, p. 267a.Google Scholar
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    Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe — “complicating” the argument of Michael Fried (in “Three American Painters” from 1965) — “Irreconcilable Similarities: The Idea of Nonrepresentation,” in Stephen Barker (ed.), Signs of Change: Premodern — Modern — Postmodern (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996), p. 310.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Max Statkiewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Comparative Literature Dept.University of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA

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