Great Dialogues Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. How does Socrates distinguish knowledge known through art from knowledge known through inspiration?

Socrates characterizes artistic knowledge as universal. Therefore, one who knows the art of poetry could equally recite or analyze the poetry of any other poet. However, inspiration is a more enigmatic virtue of knowledge. Because Ion cannot recite any poet's poetry, he must have knowledge of poetry through divine inspiration. In short, Socrates separates the critics of art from the creators of art, where there former has less limitations on their craft but also less creative potential.

2. What is an art, according to Socrates?

An art is a definable body of knowledge or an order system of skills. It is important to mention that all arts have a (perhaps divinely inspired) creative facet. Poetry, for example, is a skill that can be mastered, taught, and analyzed, but the creative forces which move a poet to write - or in this case that move Ion to memorize Homer - are not quantifiable quite like the aforementioned skill of poetry. Therefore, an art is not just a skill, but also a term used to appeal to the otherworldly inspiration that one gets from art's product.

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