The Republic

Plato's The Republic: Decency and the Arts

The role of art in society has always presented a battle between freedom of expression and decency, as is clearly presented in Book III of The Republic. Plato argues that the purpose of the arts is to promote the virtues of wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance; literature must never deviate from the endorsement of these ideals. Ideals to the contrary must be censored so as not to negatively impact the minds of the youth, the leaders of tomorrow. But what importance do PlatoÃÂÂs strict standards have in the classical republican philosophy of government, and how do they compare with todayÃÂÂs society in America?

It is extremely hard for me as an American to relate to a culture and time where community superceded individuality, and art was nothing more than a means to an end. Since John LockeÃÂÂs declaration of natural rights and the revolutions that followed, there has been a shift in focus from utilitarian ideals of the greater good to a passionate advancement of individual liberty. This shift resulted in art being released from the strain of having to benefit society; there could be art for artÃÂÂs sake, for expressionÃÂÂs sake (whether good or bad). However, to Plato art was another tool that could be used to further the...

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