I wouldn’t be surprised if the average reader found this confusing. After all, isn’t there a substantial difference between art and philosophy? Philosophy is a study of the nature of knowledge. It is rational, it is orderly, and it is systematic. Art is a study of the human condition. It is emotional, it is empathic, and it is messy. So why does Plato expel artists from his Republic, his ideal city? Perhaps he fears the competition that artists will give philosophers, since both disciplines aim at a revelation of some type of truth, one about logic and knowledge the other about the human condition. However, Plato believed that the type of knowledge that artists communicated was an inferior type of knowledge. And even if we put that aside for a moment and admit that there are types of “truth” that each discipline espouses, at first glance these two types of truth seem very different from one another.
Plato states quite plainly that artists are solely concerned with the particulars of appearance, and as such they do not fit into the broad scheme of universal ideals that Plato believes to be the penultimate goal of the philosopher’s quest. Plato calls the refinement of knowledge aimed at revealing "universal ideals" phronesis, a word loosely translated into English as "judgment". In other words, refining our judgment is the definitive intellectual virtue. I suppose then, for Plato, there can be no match between what the artist does and what the philosopher does.
Aristotle, on the other hand, divides our knowledge of understanding into three different parts, and while part of our understanding of the world is theoretical (i.e. Plato), it is also productive and practical. Thus phronesis or judgment is not an unqualified intellectual virtue, but only in matters regarding human conduct. Furthermore, because humanity exists as a multiplicity, and the judgment of the individual is subjective the individual can share his or her aesthetic appreciation of an art object with the community. Thus I can contemplate an object of art, appreciate it, critique it and discuss it with others and arrive at a universal understanding that reflects the multiplicity of the community.
It is interesting because, aside from judgment, the overlap between the disciplines of art and philosophy may take the form of moral virtue, by which I mean that artists goal is to create a work of art that reveals some truth about the nature of the human condition to elevate the viewer, and in the same way the philosophers the aim it to arrive at a kind of moral virtue through a refinement of phronesis. That is both discipline ultimately strive to reveal truths about the nature of existence that will ultimately better human kind.