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The oldest theory of art in the West is to be found in Plato, in Book X of “The Republic.” There, Socrates defines art as imitation. He then declares that it is very easy to get perfect imitations — by means of mirrors. His intent is to show that art belongs to the domain of reflections, shadows, illusions, dreams. He proceeds to map the universe in terms of three degrees of reality. The highest reality is found in the domain of what he calls “ideas,” the forms of things. Ideas are grasped by the mind. The next degree of reality is possessed by ordinary objects, the kind carpenters make. The artist only know how ordinary objects look, as rendered in painting or drawings. The carpenter’s knowledge is higher than the artist’s: his beds, for example, hold the sleeping body or, more strenuously, bodies locked in love. The highest knowledge is possessed by those who grasp the idea of the bed, understanding how it supports the body. The lowest knowledge, if it is knowledge at all, is the artist’s ability to draw pictures of beds. They only show appearances.