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Imagination according to Plato is an inferior faculty which imitates reality. Plato maintains the view that work of imagination in the form of art and literature presents nothing but imitations of truth in the form of sense ideas. That’s why Plato gives no place to artists in his republic. On the other hand he believes that rational knowledge, presented in his dialogues in the form of rational discourse, is the only true form of knowledge.

When Muslims discovered Plato, they were really impressed by his thought and system and majority of the early Muslim thinkers and mystics formed the view that religion and philosophy intend to reveal the same reality. That what religion shows and reveals through faith, philosophy establishes through rational discussion. However this faith in Plato created certain questions of real import and significance pertaining to the compatibility of religion and philosophy on certain issues. First among these issues was the form of expression adopted in Holy Scripture. Quran was not written in the form of a pure rational dialogue, niether it intended to show reality in rational categories. Quranic language suggested that its way of expression was some what imaginative and mimetic. Since Muslims wanted to reconcile the teachings of Islam with the teachings of Plato that’s why they adopted a different interpretation of imagination. Muslim thinkers exalted the role of imagination and asserted that imagination was a way to communicate knowledge acquired through religious experience. In this way imitation was exalted but this exaltation was restricted to literary expression.

In Semitic tradition Adam's fall was considered to be a work of imagination and it was the main cause behind the temptation of Adam which compelled him to commit the original sin. Abhorrence for imagination in mediaeval Christian mystics was in reality an aftermath of platonic interpretation of imagination. Hence the mimetic faculty was said to be an evil faculty and its use was not acknowledged .In classical culture, however, imagination was the most exalted faculty and poetic expression was the highest form of expression. Art flourished to its heights in the pre-Socratic times. In classical mindset imagination was the real creative power behind the formation and creation of various cultural forms.

After renaissance the views about imagination changed and this change was vivid in the ideas of David Hume. Hume maintained that imagination was the force behind the creation of cultural forms, though, like Plato he said that artists and poets were professional liars. However he resolved to accept their lies on a somewhat pragmatic ground for he argued that to live a good and orderly life one should have to live accept illusions.

Nietzsche, as he belonged to post- romantic age, considered the work of imagination as the true creation and considered both truth and lie as necessary conditions of life. Hence he considered imagination as the most effective faculty responsible for carrying out creative activity.
I want to compare these three interpretations of imagination. In my view Nietzsche and Hume adopted a position which is closer to classical interpretation whereas Christian mystics adopted a Platonic stance. On the other hand Muslims tried to synthesize Platonic and classical interpretation. An in-depth study of these trends will manifest many realities and will be of significance.


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