In this paper the author makes a both philosophical and anthropological analysis of two key-concepts in the western philosophical tradition: mask and idea. The work begins by drawing the reader's attention to cave paintings in such archaeological sites as Lascaux, La Marche, Chauvet and Altamira. Besides the famous animal images, the author points out, those which represent masked human figures are also highly recurrent. Why did this primordial humanity always represent human beings with their faces covered by animal-masks? What anthropological interpretation should we give to these findings? Following the main path of Platonism-based European culture, we should link the mask only to a desire for pretence, falsehood and insincerity. There is a well shaped truth lying under every mask, and the only obstacle to acknowledging it is the mask itself. In Plato's philosophy, beyond every mask and every illusion, beyond the material and sensible world itself, stands the world of Ideas, the intellectual and objective forms, namely universals, through which sensible reality can be rationally understood. Mask and Idea, as it seems, are thus completely antithetical concepts: the former is connected to error and falsity, the latter to knowledge and truth. This conviction is linked to the epistemological paradigm that lies at the base of Plato's philosophical dismissal of art, drama end poetry from the ideal society, as is maintained in his most famous work, the Republic. For Plato, art and theatrical mimesis (the Greek word for imitation and identification) do not concern neither truth nor justice. They are on the contrary reason of ignorance, disorder and violence.Nevertheless, in Tagliapietra's opinion, a closer look at Plato's dialogues, in particular the Phaedrus and the Laws, could undermine this unilateral conclusion. Perhaps, he argues, even in Plato's metaphysics there is a place left for theatrical identification as a genuine form of knowledge. At its highest speculative level, Plato's philosophy shows a disturbing and unforeseen proximity between mask and idea and, subsequently, between the act of putting on a mask and the enterprises of science and philosophy. Anthropological studies concerning the religious and theatrical use of masks in archaic societies, the author points out, support the conviction that theatrical empathy and artistic imitation are the oldest forms of knowledge that humanity has exercised over the course of its history.

La maschera e l’idea

TAGLIAPIETRA , ANDREA
2009-01-01

Abstract

In this paper the author makes a both philosophical and anthropological analysis of two key-concepts in the western philosophical tradition: mask and idea. The work begins by drawing the reader's attention to cave paintings in such archaeological sites as Lascaux, La Marche, Chauvet and Altamira. Besides the famous animal images, the author points out, those which represent masked human figures are also highly recurrent. Why did this primordial humanity always represent human beings with their faces covered by animal-masks? What anthropological interpretation should we give to these findings? Following the main path of Platonism-based European culture, we should link the mask only to a desire for pretence, falsehood and insincerity. There is a well shaped truth lying under every mask, and the only obstacle to acknowledging it is the mask itself. In Plato's philosophy, beyond every mask and every illusion, beyond the material and sensible world itself, stands the world of Ideas, the intellectual and objective forms, namely universals, through which sensible reality can be rationally understood. Mask and Idea, as it seems, are thus completely antithetical concepts: the former is connected to error and falsity, the latter to knowledge and truth. This conviction is linked to the epistemological paradigm that lies at the base of Plato's philosophical dismissal of art, drama end poetry from the ideal society, as is maintained in his most famous work, the Republic. For Plato, art and theatrical mimesis (the Greek word for imitation and identification) do not concern neither truth nor justice. They are on the contrary reason of ignorance, disorder and violence.Nevertheless, in Tagliapietra's opinion, a closer look at Plato's dialogues, in particular the Phaedrus and the Laws, could undermine this unilateral conclusion. Perhaps, he argues, even in Plato's metaphysics there is a place left for theatrical identification as a genuine form of knowledge. At its highest speculative level, Plato's philosophy shows a disturbing and unforeseen proximity between mask and idea and, subsequently, between the act of putting on a mask and the enterprises of science and philosophy. Anthropological studies concerning the religious and theatrical use of masks in archaic societies, the author points out, support the conviction that theatrical empathy and artistic imitation are the oldest forms of knowledge that humanity has exercised over the course of its history.
mask; ideas; identification
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11768/685
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