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The Seeing Beauty on Platon and Plotinus

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2011, 34(), pp.119-150
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : December 30, 2011

Soonah Lee 1

1홍익대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The intention of this thesis is to emphasize that the sight's ability to turn one's eyes to the sensible beauty is the starting point to apprehend the true beauty, the source of truth by examining the process of proceeding from the visual experience of sensible beauty to the contemplation of the intelligible and absolute beauty, in exploring the meaning of ‘seeing beauty’ on Platon and Plotinus. For Plato and Plotinus, beauty is a property of things which are made beautiful by participating in Form of beauty. So the soul perceives visually beauty by recalling the Form of beauty which the soul have seen before, in looking at a beautiful thing. The cause of the sensible beauty is the intelligible principle. Every sensible beauty is based on the participation in the Form which is emanated from the One and therefore it appear only in the phenomenal form such as symmetry, proportion and harmony. The sensible beauty of this phenomenal quality is transparent about the invisible origin, or the cause of beauty. Therefore the cause of the sensible beauty is intrinsically beautiful. Our soul attains from the sensible beauty to its intelligible principle, or its cause through purification that is its anamnestic return to its original self by which soul itself becomes the Form or intellect(νοῦς) as single being. Here all virtues make soul single and beautiful as a purification of soul bringing it back to itself and its origin in intellect and the Forms. So soul is able to leave the sensible beauty and see the intelligible beauty through purification by the beauty of virtue. Further the virtuous soul which itself has become intellect seeks the absolute beauty, or the spring of all beauties, the One(τὸ ἕν). When soul shuts its eyes and wakes the inner sight through a spiritual discipline, just then it can contemplate the single and absolute beauty. By the inner sight soul goes back into itself and further makes itself beautiful internally. The One is the absolute beauty and the transcendent cause of all beauties, and so it gives unity to all beings and makes all things beautiful at the same time. Here beauty is transparent about the invisible transcendence of the One, its own cause. In other words, beauty is the visibility of the One. Therefore soul can ascend from the sensible to the intelligible and further to the One, or its own source by seeing beauty and making the unity that is a phenomenal character of beauty its motive. In this way, soul achieves the spiritual ascension. In this sense, art is also able to play a role in helping soul go up to the intelligible world. For works of art are transparent about the intelligible principle through their visible image, they are fully capable not only of recalling the source of beauty but of providing direct access to intellect and the One. Thus, ‘the seeing beauty’ on Platon and Plotinus is the starting point and the stepping stone for ‘philosophia’ which goes from the sensible to the intelligible and then toward the truth. So, soul realizes the link between the sensible and intelligible, by being provoked from the experience to look at the sensible beauty.

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