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J.S. MILL ON PLATO, REASON AND ART

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John Stuart Mill identifies a cross-current in Plato's thinking that both blinds and perfects humanity. He concludes that the dialogues are bifurcated between the goals of reason and art: portraits of the philosopher's often heroic search for absolute truth and artistic images that cover up or hide reason's limited understanding of morality and truth itself. Mill regrets that Plato, fearing social disintegration, ultimately subordinates the dialectical, liberating current to the ethical, artistic, current. Mill is also concerned with preventing social decay and recognizes that he himself confronts a contradiction between reason and art in creating a cultural and religious outlook that defines the best form of human existence as creative deeds that serve > the public good. Determined not to subordinate reason to art, Mill utilizes Plato's portrayal of the heroic and teaching of the natural religion of the Statesman to help resolve this contradiction.
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Keywords: Christianity; Hegel; Mill; Plato; Socrates; art; culture; imagination; natural law; natural religion; nature; reason; romanticism; theism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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