Ongoing effort to understand work for assignment 3

Contemplating the following: The image, the copy, and the thing depicted, the original.


A common definition of the simulacrum is a copy of a copy whose relation to
the model has become so attenuated that it can no longer properly be said to
be a copy. It stands on its own as a copy without a model. Fredric Jameson
cites the example of photorealism. The painting is a copy not of reality, but of
a photograph, which is already a copy of the original.

Plato saw the simulacrum  as “false claimant to being”,  but Deleuze argued that simulacrum never claim to be the the copy,  it is a false pretender, but not trying to deceive, as it is what it is.   He wanted to overturn the Platonian idea of simulacra, in order to restore to simulacra its rightful role as a type of ‘rightful’ image, and not forgery, which has a negative connotation to it.   Deleuze is trying to reclaim the term and give it the meaning he thinks is deserves among icons and copies.  He state that the simulacrum is “not a degraded copy. It harbours a positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction.” (Deleuze, 1990, 271) Plato’s discourse sought to distinguish between “good and bad copies”  or the real and the copy.  Plato saw two types of images:  “likeness making” and “appearance making” – appearance in the Greek meaning Phantasm.  For Plato the simulacra was a ‘forger’.   According to Camille (1996: 35) in his essay on Simulacrum:  “The simulacrum has been repressed in this history of representation, because it threatens the very notion of the presentation itself.”  I understand this as that simulacrum pushes beyond – almost as if it is not playing the game by the rules, it is another game.  He goes on to say that it was only in the 1960’s that it came back to interrogate postmodern artistic practices and theories of representation.  This is a great historical overview as well as a look into the future around this complex term.  Simulacra are copies that depict things that either had no reality to begin with, or that no longer have an original.
Deleuze, in his article “Plato and the Simulacrum,” takes a similar definition as his starting point, but emphasizes its inadequacy and, according to Michael Camille,  refoundend the simulacrum as a crucial critical and art-historical term for our own times.  It seems the term has been used by the surrealists and French post war writers, in attempts to describe the non communicable dimensions of the pictorial sign.  Deleuze states:  “The copy is an image endowed with resemblance, the simulacrum is an image without resemblance.  The catechism, so much inspired by Platonism has familiarised us with this notion……….We have become simulacra” (Deleuze:p267)

Deleuze helps to connect hyperreality to another strain of media theory originating in one of the oldest known media theorists, Plato. Suspicion of media technologies is not a uniquely modern phenomenon, indeed Plato advanced a critique of the written word through the dialog of Socrates in the Phaedrus (quite similar to that of Baudrillard in CPS). Plato, in his Allegory of the Cave, purports the existence of truth in ideal forms, accessible not in reality but through the philosopher’s ideas and intellectual pursuit of the forms. Plato presents a clear understanding of simulations in the Caves; although he concedes that any artistic reproduction of ideal forms would constitute representation, he is clear that it entails the copy of an original, true form. Deleuze argues that Plato contrasts these legitimate copies to fearful simulacra, “Plato divides in two the domain of images-idols: on one hand there are copies-icons, on the other there are simulacra-phantasms” (p. 266). It is thus that Deleuze is able to claim that with the arrival of hyperreality Platonism has been reversed, for any original truth or ideal forms that provided the anchor for representation have since been permanently lost in the reproduction of simulacra and the construction of a hyperreality without any connection to the real.

but the contrasting term ‘reality’ is used in far too many divergent ways to arrive at a unified understanding. However, it may be helpful for readers to conclude this article with a few brief theories of reality as a starting point for further study. For Lacan, the term real is composed in opposition to that which is encompassed by the symbolic and the imaginary (see symbolic, real, imaginary). The real is what eludes representation, what cannot be either symbolized (in terms of Saussure’s notion of signifiers) or imagined and perceived within the images of the conscious and unconscious (Sheridan 1978: p. 280). Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1983) understand desire to be based upon the lack of the object, yet nonetheless a productive force that renders into reality the fantasy of that object. ‘Reality’ is thus nothing more than a “group fantasy” reified by ‘desiring machines, for “desire produces reality, or stated another way, desiring-production is one and the same thing as social production” (p. 30). For a definition of reality in contrast to hyperreality, Baudrillard represents many of the hyperrealists with his claim that the real is “fictional,” a phantasy generated by “doubling the signs of an unlocatable reality” (1994: p. 81). Baudrillard concludes on reality that it is nothing more than a fairy tale, it is “now impossible to isolate the process of the real, or to prove the real” (1994: p. 21).

An opportunity for studying in the arts was always a dream for me – almost a shadow which I could barely see the full ‘package’ of that what I was dreaming about. I can describe myself as this person trying to make art and trying to find out the how by trial and error, listening to people’s different opinions about art.  My cave is my comfort zone and also my world of being/reality as this is where I was brought up/ educated within a certain culture/religion/ideology.   I have functioned for many years (60+ now) seeking and finding with struggles and some hard life lessons a way into a place where I discovered I am in control of my search for a meaningful life,. This is a very personal path, not something I learnt I could expect everyone would understand, or even care about and/or want to share with me. Being a mother and wife I also had to let my kids  and husband find their own paths.


I had to read about sophistry:

More importantly, throughout the Sophist, Plato clearly sees sophistry as a technē , and in the final definition, even LIU Wei 570 calls it ―art in deception‖ (technē ek pseudēs
, 264d5).5
There is no sign showing that this identification is meant to be ironic. Besides, the Eleatic Visitor explicitly claims that the sophist has a peculiar nature (oikeian phusin) (264e3

265a1).6 Therefore, it does not seem to be a good strategy to find fault with the final definition from this perspective


Deleuze, Gilles, and Rosalind Krauss. “Plato and the Simulacrum.” October, vol. 27, 1983, pp. 45–56. JSTOR,

Plato’s Cave
Plato’s famous “allegory of the cave” can be taken as an early form of social constructivism. Some scholars argue that this is not how Plato intended it, but nonetheless constructivist philosophers have often taken inspiration from the idea. Plato’s allegory goes like this:

Imagine a group of people sitting in a cave, facing the wall with their backs to the cave entrance. When people walk around outside the cave, they cast shadows which fall on the cave wall. The people in the cave don’t realize there’s anything behind them; they think the shadows are reality! The job of the philosopher is to set these people free, to turn them around so that they can see the reality, and understand that what they saw before was simply shadows.

On a constructivist interpretation, this allegory corresponds to the ways that society only shows us “shadows” of the truth. Some constructivists, however, argue that this doesn’t make sense because there is no “reality” beneath the social constructions: to them, it’s impossible to free the people in the cave because there is no way to escape from social constructions. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t make sense to imagine the philosophers being the ones who free them — after all, philosophy is just another social construction! Social constructivists disagree about whether there is any reality beyond the social constructions. They run the gamut from extreme constructivists, who believe that the constructions are the only reality, to more moderate constructivists who believe that the constructions are powerful, but that there is still a reality behind them that human beings can somehow access or understand even if only dimly.





Plato ‘s Allegory of the Cave

Contextualize it for my own understanding and answering the Assignment question.

Plato was born somewhere in 428-427 BC, he belonged to a wealthy and aristocratic family who was involved in Athenian politics.  He was influenced by a tradition of scepticism and  the teachings of Socrates (more scepticism).

In his Socratic dialogues Plato argues through Socrates ( who could not write) that because the material world is changeable it is also unreliable, but that there must be more – a real world of Forms or Ideas ( Greek eidos/idea) Forms/Ideas exist in an abstract state, but is independent of minds – thus in their ‘own realm’.  So when people try to attempt to recreate the Form/Idea, it will end up an ‘imperfect representation’ of its perfect Form/Idea.  According to Plato true and reliable knowledge rests only with those who can comprehend the true reality behind the world of everyday experience.  This is only possible through a difficult education whereby individuals are taught to ‘recall’ this knowledge of Forms/Ideas.  The reason we use ‘recall’ in the teaching process, is because, according to Plato, the soul was already in existence and new about the Forms/Ideas before and individual was born. So education alone cannot teach a person about ‘Forms/Ideas’- not every person will then have access to this knowledge .   The object of  thought are the true reality – our mind organises and make sense of abstract pattern/forms – how we organise different thoughts.  Physical realm of becoming and some deeper eternal substance –  how our mind understands this world. He only believes in goodness of the forms/ideas – other thinking is ignorance of theses high forms that we call evil  -Education and thinkers can make a society better. He had mystical beliefs – re incarnations, trans-migration of the soles – did not understand the brain – so rational thought came from the soul.

The Rebublic is the ideal utopian society and to  understand our relationship to the world of the Forms/Ideas, Plato uses  The Allegory of the Cave, an analogy of prisoners who spend their whole lives being chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads.  All they ever see is the cave wall in front of them.  From  time to time there  are shadows on the walls created by a fire, which is behind them.  Between the prisoners and the fire there is a parapet, on which puppeteers can walk.  These puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners, they also make sounds (whispers and noises).  All that the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects and puppeteers that they do not see.  He goes on to relate how one day one of the dwellers in darkness is dragged up out of the cave, he sees the puppets, the puppeteers, the fire, then the world outside the cave, which at first blinds him, but he gets used to the light, eventually can even look at the sun .

In the Repuclic the story is being told be Socrates to the young Glaucon

[Socrates] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: –Behold!
human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.   [Glaucon] I see.
[Socrates] And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
[Glaucon] You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
[Socrates] Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
[Glaucon] True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
[Socrates] And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
[Glaucon] Yes, he said.
[Socrates] And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
[Glaucon] Very true.

a bit further on….

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the
shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
[Glaucon] Far truer.
[Socrates] And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
[Glaucon] True, he now.
[Socrates] And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he‘s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
[Glaucon] Not all in a moment, he said.
[Socrates] He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best,next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?[Glaucon] Certainly.
[Socrates] Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
[Glaucon] Certainly.
[Socrates] He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?  

[Glaucon] Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
[Socrates] And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
[Glaucon] Certainly, he would.
[Socrates] And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for
such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
[Glaucon] Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
[Socrates] Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
[Glaucon] To be sure, he said.
[Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous?
Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
[Glaucon] No question, he said.
[Socrates] This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
[Glaucon] I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.
[Socrates] Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
[Glaucon] Yes, very natural.
[Socrates] And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows
of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?
[Glaucon] Anything but surprising, he replied.
[Socrates] Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the cave.
[Glaucon] That, he said, is a very just distinction.
[Socrates] But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.
[Glaucon] They undoubtedly say this, he replied.
[Socrates] Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.
[Glaucon] Very true.
[Socrates] And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?
[Glaucon] Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.
[Socrates] And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the
other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue –how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness.
[Glaucon] Very true, he said.
[Socrates] But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below –if, I say, they
had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.
[Glaucon] Very likely.
[Socrates] Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is to the light of truth. Plato clearly is referring to himself here, as going beyond appearances to perceive the world of the Forms – the highest of which, the dazzling ‘sun’ of the Forms, is the Form of (the) Good. He has Socrates say of this Form “Once [the Good] is perceived, the conclusion must follow that, for all things, this is the cause of whatever is right and good: in the visible world it gives birth to light and to the lord of light, while it is itself sovereign in the intelligible world [of Forms], and the parent of intelligence and truth. Without having had a vision of this Form no one can act with wisdom, either in his own life or in matters of the state.”


Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave” From The Republic of Plato, Book 7, 514a-521d

Plato tells us that the freed man, having seen the truth, will return to tell his former companions what he has experienced. Plato also thinks they won’t believe him, will abuse him for his foolishness, and will kill him if he tries to free others. Nevertheless, for Plato it is the duty of the enlightened to try and convince the endarkened of the deception they suffer under; and he goes on to explain why the philosopher, who has knowledge of the Good, should rule over those who do not have such knowledge.

Leave a Reply