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Lapraik Guest, Clare (2023) 'Ut sophistes pictor: An Introduction to the Sophistic Contribution to Aesthetics.' Humanities, 12 (4). p. 58.

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This essay provides an introduction to the question of the contribution of the ancient sophists to aesthetics in Western art. It commences by examining the persistent analogies to visual arts in negative and positive discussions of sophistry, both philosophical and rhetorical, and proceeds to examine sophistic rhetoric in Gorgias, Aristides, Lucian, Philostratus and Byzantine ekphrasis, culminating with Philostratus’ discussions of mimesis and phantasia in Apollonius of Tyana. The discussions of the relation of being and nonbeing in Gorgias’ On Nonbeing and in Plato’s Sophist form the ontological core of sophistic claims about imaginative invention and the sophistic advancement of voluntary illusion (apatē) as a means to poetic “justice” or “truth”. Such claims should be considered in the light of the epistemological and ontological skepticism propounded by Gorgias. Although the opprobrium attached to sophistry obscures its later influence, we can nevertheless discern a sophistic aesthetic tradition focused on the reflective reception of artworks that re-emerges in the Renaissance. In the last section, I adumbrate the lines of study for examining a sophistic Renaissance in the visual arts, with attention to antiquarianism as an area where the significance of the beholder’s imaginative projection suggests the endurance—or revitalization—of sophistic aesthetics.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: sophistry; aesthetics; Reception of Classical Antiquity; Philostratus; Gorgias; epideictic rhetoric; Kairos; pictorial illusion; imagination and phantasia; Plato’s Sophist
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of the History of Art & Archaeology
ISSN: 20760787
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2023 15:48

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