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By Jean Meeus

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605-6). Plato concludes by advocating censorship. He writes that in his ideal republic ‘we must issue . . , 401). ). It may be agreed that sometimes works of art have a bad influence; but it does not follow that the purpose of art is to be a good influence any more than it follows that because there are dangers in driving motor vehicles the purpose of driving is to promote road safety. If art had a valid purpose of its own the most that would follow from the possibility of its being a bad influence is that access to it should be limited to those responsible enough to use it properly.

These ideas obviously need to be developed and supplemented before we can claim to have a comprehensive theory of pleasure. There is, notably, the question of harmful pleasures: so far Aristotle has only given a sufficient condition for pleasure. He introduces a range of considerations to explain other pleasures, including impairment of our faculties and failure to develop them properly. But we need not go into this to recognize that his general approach has much to commend it. By regarding pleasure as a quality of activity, differences between pleasures can be immediately put down to differences in the respective activities.

But Plato is not at all guilty of overlooking the point that art aspires to be beautiful. His thesis is that it cannot attain this aim though it may appear to do so. It is because of this deficiency, and because he believes that the experience of true beauty is of such paramount importance, that Plato is so severe on artists. Plato holds, as a defining characteristic, that we love and desire the things we take to be beautiful; but that the good is the only proper object of desire. e. when it is something good.

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Astronomical algorithms by Jean Meeus


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