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World of ideas


Plato’s concept of the world of ideas was one of the cornerstones of Symbolism. The philosopher’s Eros doctrine was also important for the Symbolists: Platonic love was love towards the idea of beauty. According to this mystical view, artists had the sensitivity to appreciate the true nature of the universe and beauty through momentary intuitive inspirations, and to convey a sense of this to others. In this way the individual experience of the artist played an important role in Symbolist art.

The Symbolists were also attracted to the idea presented by Plato in the dialogue Timaeus regarding the general harmony of the universe, to which man belonged. According to the concept of correspondence, the microcosm and macrocosm correspond to each other. Man (the microcosm) corresponds to God (the macrocosm), sensual reality to the world of ideas. Form and movement, numbers, scents, colours and sounds all correspond and interact with each other on the spiritual level.