The Chinese room argument in Plato’s Ion

Hippokratis Kiaris


Ion, one of the earliest of Plato’s dialogues, is also considered as one of the philosopher’s less important philosophical works. It is also viewed as one of the earliest texts on the philosophy of art that distinguishes between techne and artistic creation, with the latter representing a form of divine inspiration which occurs outside the awareness of its creator. Here I will offer an alternative interpretation that is based on the dissociation of the poet from his reciter. The latter, by operating as a medium, functions similarly to the ignorant in Chinese but possessor and user of a perfect manual, in Searle’s Chinese room. Furthermore, I propose that art, in Plato’s view, may represent a form of creative achievement with significance that exceeds the sum of the specific disciplines it deals with.

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