Resemblance: Play Between the Visible and the Invisible

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


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.


Family Resemblance Soccer Field Mere Appearance Careful Artist Epistemological Principle 
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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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