Image and Imagination in Plato

November 27, 2020 - Yesterday

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Keynote speakers:

Junipero Serra High School
Brown University
Noburu Notomi
University of Tokyo
Université de Fribourg


Dae-Ho Cho
Yonsei University
Chinese Culture University
Seoul National University
Satoshi Ogihara
Tohoku University
Kyung Hee University

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Image and Imagination in Plato

Plato’s attitude towards images is ambiguous. On the one hand, there are unmistakable signs that he denounces the status of images. In the simile of the Line, he puts images in the lowest subsection. Hecriticizes image-makers such as poets and painters. One of his main criticisms of the sophists is also that they are image-makers. On the other hand, Plato’s dialogues are full of vivid images. He may even have thought that the use of images and imagination is an intermediate step and a necessary means for achieving the highest level of understanding. How should we account for this ambiguity?

Traditional studies on Plato’s views of image and imagination have focused mainly on the Republic and the Sophist, especially on his negative treatments of images and image-makings in them. In recent decades, however, more attention has been given to his positive views both in these dialogues and in other works such as the Timaeus and the Phaedrus. The reinterpretations of philosophical images used in his dialogues and the new questions about their ontological and epistemological status have opened up the possibility of broader and more intensive discussions on Plato’s philosophical uses of images and imagination.

With these new perspectives, we may ask a variety of questions. What exactly are the purposes and scopes of Plato’s use of images and imagination? What is Plato’s ontology and epistemology of images? Is an image of a Form something like a sensible trope? Can images be objects of “knowledge”? If language is also an image, what is it an image of? What bearings does Plato’s ontology and epistemology of images have on his views of the good life? What role, if any, does imagination play in our ethical, political, and religious life? What is the difference between Plato’s own image-makings and those which he criticizes?

In this conference, we would like to discuss broad topics related to Plato’s views on image and imagination. Check our website ( for the schedule and the authors and titles of the presentations. If you want to participate in the conference, you can register and get the zoom meeting ID by contacting us at

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November 22, 2020, 11:45pm KST

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