The Metaphysics of Appearance in Republic X (596a5–598d7)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 61 (1):1-24 (2023)
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Abstractabstract:Plato's Republic X attack on imitative poetry is based in the metaphysics of appearance, since appearances are the objects and products of imitation. I offer a new reading, showing that Plato's account coherently introduces appearances as a new type of item, distinct from Forms and sensible particulars, and applies beyond imitation to a broad range of appearances. Focusing on the importance of perspective to Plato's reasoning, I argue that an appearance is a relation that comes about between a material particular and an apprehending subject. Ordinarily, appearances are transparent: they confer determinate awareness on the subject, but are not the objects of our awareness insofar as we are appeared to. This reading resolves longstanding obscurities, grounds an improved account of imitation, and shows that Plato here presents the cornerstone of a general theory of appearance.



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