Che gli esseri umani siano i soli animali capaci di ridere e piangere può essere messo in dubbio, ma che siano gli unici a sviluppare degli strumenti a questo scopo, non può esserlo. Tragedia e commedia, i due fronti dell’arte drammatica codificati da Aristotele nella "Poetica", sono proprio questi strumenti. La difficoltà a conferire un significato univoco a questi due magmatici termini, è sintomatica. In questo breve scritto tento di identificare la ragione di questa difficoltà e proporre un’ipotesi di lavoro (...) per risolverla, o per lo meno approcciarla. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This essay deals with the relation between representation, imitation, and the affects in Don Quixote. In so doing, it focuses on Cervantes’s Platonist poetics and his own views of imitation and the books of knighthood. Although most readers, translators, and critics have until now deemed Cervantes’s use of the word “republic” in Don Quixote unimportant, the word “república” or republic is in fact the entry point to Cervantes’ Platonist critique of the novels of knighthood, and his notions of writing, (...) imitation, and the emotions. (shrink)
The paper starts with reflections on Plato’s critique of the poets and the preference many express for Aristotle’s view of poetry. The second part of the paper takes a case study of analytic treatments of ancient philosophy, including the ancient philosopher poets, to examine the poetics of analytic philosophy, diagnosing a preference in Analytic philosophy for a clean non-poetic style of presentation, and then develops this in considering how well historians of philosophy in the Analytic tradition can accommodate the contributions (...) of philosophers who wrote in verse. The final part of the paper reviews the current enthusiasm for decoding Empedocles’ vague and poetic descriptions of the cosmic cycle into a precise scientific periodicity on the basis of the recently discovered Byzantine scholia on Aristotle. I argue that this enthusiasm speaks to a desire for definite and clear numerical values in place of poetic motifs of give and take, and that this mathematical and scientific poetic is comparable to the preferred poetic of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
In Poetics 13, Aristotle claims that the protagonist in the most beautiful tragedies comes to ruin through some kind of ‘failure’—in Greek, hamartia. There has been notorious disagreement among scholars about the moral responsibility involved in hamartia. This article defends the old reading of hamartia as a character flaw, but with an important modification: rather than explaining the hero's weakness as general weakness of will (akrasia), it argues that the tragic hero is blinded by temper (thumos) or by a pursuit (...) for fine, good and desirable things—that is, by what may be labelled ‘qualified’ weakness of will. The upshot is that hamartia ends up as being less blameworthy than ‘proper’ akrasia, but still explains why morally outstanding people are unsuitable for the most beautiful tragedies. (shrink)
This essay offers an interpretation of Aristotle’s account of the birth of tragedy (Poetics 1448b18–1449a15) as a mimesis of poetic praxis. The workings of this passage emerge when read in connection with ring composition in Homeric speeches, and further unfold through a comparison with the Shield of Achilles and with an ode from Euripides’ Heracles. Aristotle appears to draw upon a traditional pattern enacting cyclical rebirth or revitalization. It is suggested that his puzzling insistence on “one complete action” in plot (...) is bound up with moment-to-moment performance. The poetics of Aristotle’s account suggest a pedagogy of mimesis. (shrink)
La premisa que guía nuestra investigación es que Poética es un tratado científico, i. e., que la investigación desarrollada en dicha obra se corresponde con el examen de una téchne. Defendemos que el método utilizado se corresponde con el método general de investigación denominado “salvar las apariencias”. Tal método es expuesto con más detalle en otras obras del corpus pero lo presuponemos utilizado en Poética. Si bien el método presupone la recolección de datos, no se limita a eso puesto que (...) el paso ulterior consiste en la caracterización de las diferencias y la exposición de las cuatro causas del fenómeno. De este modo, expondremos por un lado la base fenoménica de Poética y, por otro, sus cuatro causas. (shrink)
The purpose of the paper is to discuss Aristotle’s account of homonymy. The major thesis advocated here is that Aristotle considers both entities and words to be homonymous, depending on the object of his criticism. Thus, when he takes issue with Plato, he tends to view homonymy more ontologically, upon which it is entities that become homonymous. When, on the other hand, he gainsays the exegetes or the sophists, he is inclined to perceive homonymy more semantically, upon which it is (...) words that become homonymous. Subsequently, this article shows that Aristotle values homonymy negatively in dialectical discussions, but positively in rhetorical and poetic arts. Finally, the present paper demonstrates that Aristotle regards systematic homonymy as a very useful theoretical tool that makes it possible to critically examine the basic terminological assumptions of any philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Aristotle’s Poetics is the first philosophical account of an art form and is the foundational text in the history of aesthetics. The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Poetics is an accessible guide to this often dense and cryptic work. Angela Curran introduces and assesses: Aristotle’s life and the background to the Poetics the ideas and text of the Poetics , including mimēsis ; poetic technē; the definition of tragedy; the elements of poetic composition; the Poetics’ recommendations for tragic (...) plot patterns; catharsis ; epic and comedy; the nature of our emotional response to drama; the proper pleasure of tragedy; and the role that art plays in a human life the relevance of Aristotle’s work in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and philosophical psychology to the Poetics a comparison of Plato and Aristotle on the value of mimetic art the continuing importance of Aristotle’s Poetics to contemporary philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of film. (shrink)
Improvisation is the origin of art and science, tragedy and comedy, acting and doing, of the self as improvising and improvised. But clearly we cannot use improvisation to explain improvisation. We cannot be satisfied with an argument that improvisation is, well, improvisational--nor simply free-play. Rather, improvisation as αὐτο-σχεδιάζεῖν, means self-schematization.
The article tackles the relationship between genius and analogy in Descartes’s early writings and the programmatic writings of the Encyclopédie. For Descartes, ingenious analogies between phenomena that are not obviously related belong more properly to poetic truth discourse, whereas philosophy must be content with the more easily observable and methodical mechanistic comparisons. In the encyclopedic ordering of Diderot and d’Alembert, on the other hand, ingenious analogies are not specific to any particular field of knowledge, since genius consists precisely in connecting (...) even the most remote branches of the whole tree of knowledge. I argue that the theoretical core of both approaches can be traced back to Aristotle’s theory of metaphor insofar as it relies on the analogy of genera rather than species. (shrink)
Jonathan Lear argues that the established purgation, purification, and cognitive stimulation interpretations of Aristotle’s concepts of catharsis and tragic pleasure are off the mark. In response, Lear defends an anti-cognitivist account, arguing that it is the pleasure associated with imaginatively “living life to the full” and yet hazarding nothing of importance that captures Aristotle’s understanding of catharsis and tragic pleasure. This analysis reveals that Aristotle’s account of imagination in conjunction with his understanding of both specific intellectual virtues and rational emotions (...) of an educated citizen not only tells against Lear’s anti-cognitivist construal, but also divulges an alternative cognitive stimulation reading. (shrink)
Exploring what two foundational figures, Plato and Aristotle, have to say about the nature of human awareness and understanding, Aryeh Kosman concludes that ultimately the virtues of thought are to be found in the joys and satisfactions that come from thinking philosophically, whether we engage in it ourselves or witness others' participation.
While the loss of the second book of the Poetics has deprived us of Aristotle’s most extensive account of laughter and comedy, his discussion of eutrapelia as a virtue in his ethical works and in the Rhetoric points toward the importance of humor for his ethical and political thought. This article offers a reconstruction of Aristotle’s account of wittiness and attempts to explain how the virtue of wittiness would animate the everyday interactions of ordinary citizens. Placing Aristotle’s account of wittiness (...) in dialogue with recent work within the ethical turn in contemporary political theory can help articulate what a late-modern ethos of democratic laughter might look like. (shrink)
This paper offers an interpretation and a defense of Aristotle’s view of history. According to a common reading of the Poetics, the philosopher intends to establish a dichotomy between history and poetry. On this view, the former speaks only of particulars because it relates events that are accidentally related to one another, whereas the latter speaks of universals because it organizes events according to causal relations of probability and necessity. A careful reading of the relevant passages of the Poetics and (...) the analysis of his conception of historia as a preliminary inquiry that leads to the philosophical investigation of causes and principles, however, show that Aristotle did not confine history to the realm of particulars. Rather, he acknowledged that it has some connection with universality, and to that extent, that it partakes in the philosophical nature of poetry. At the same time he provided valid indications to the effect that, despite their affinity, historia and poiêtikê differ in kind, because they are defined by different functions (erga). (shrink)
As well as producing one of the finest of all poetic traditions, ancient Greek culture produced a major tradition of poetic theory and criticism. Halliwell's volume offers a series of detailed and challenging interpretations of some of the defining authors and texts in the history of ancient Greek poetics: the Homeric epics, Aristophanes' Frogs, Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Poetics, Gorgias's Helen, Isocrates' treatises, Philodemus' On Poems, and Longinus' On the Sublime. The volume's fundamental concern is with how the Greeks conceptualized the (...) experience of poetry and debated the values of that experience. The book's organizing theme is a recurrent Greek dialectic between ideas of poetry as, on the one hand, a powerfully enthralling experience in its own right and, on the other, a medium for the expression of truths which can exercise lasting influence on its audiences' views of the world. Citing a wide range of modern scholarship, and making frequent connections with later periods of literary theory and aesthetics, Halliwell questions many orthodoxies and received opinions about the texts analysed. The resulting perspective casts new light on ways in which the Greeks attempted to make sense of the psychology of poetic experience—including the roles of emotion, ethics, imagination, and knowledge—in the life of their culture. Readership: Scholars and students of Greek literature, Greek poetics, and literary theory and criticism. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Views about Pity and Fear as Aesthetic Emotions: 1. Drama and the emotions: an Indo-European connection? 2. Gorgias: a strange trio, the poetic emotions; 3. Plato: from reality to tragedy and back; 4. Aristotle: the first 'theorist' of the aesthetic emotions; Part II. Pity and Fear within Tragedies: 5. An introduction; 6. Aeschylus: Persians; 7. Prometheus Bound; 8. Sophocles: Ajax; 9. Euripides: Orestes; Appendix: catharsis and the emotions in the definition of tragedy (...) in the Poetics. (shrink)
The following article takes up a dialogue that was initiated in the first issue of Design Ecologies, evolving in relation to questions of design within a context of concepts of complexity. As the first part of the article shows, this process of taking up a dialogue – through reading and writing – can be considered a question of design. This is elaborated alongside de Certeau’s concepts of ‘tactics’ and ‘strategies’. Further, in relation to questions emerging from the previous issue of (...) the Design Ecologies journal, the article addresses the notion of complexity through the conceptual lens of poiesis. It leads complexity to the borders of language. (shrink)
A survey of commentaries on Aristotle’s Poetics over the past century reflects a long-standing assumption that pleasure, rather than understanding, is to be seen as the real aim of tragedy, despite weak textual evidence to this end. This paper seeks to rehabilitatethe role of understanding in tragedy’s effect, as Aristotle sees it, to an equal status with that of its affective counterpart. Through an analysis of the essential inducement of wonder on the part of the viewer and its connection with (...) the organic unity of the plot—what Aristotle calls the “soul” of tragedy—I argue that the telos of tragedy in the Poetics is intended to accommodate both pleasure and incipient philosophical activity without necessarily privileging either. (shrink)
Porphyry‘s “On the Cave of the Nymphs” inaugurates a style of philosophicoallegorical interpretation of literary texts that flourished in antiquity and finds analogues in criticism down to the present. It is distinguished by its use of literary interpretation to think through speculative problems of philosophy and theology. Although it became suspect in terms of Enlightenment philological principles prescribing interpretation of the text “on its own terms,” this kind of criticism reveals the originally philosophical motives and purpose of literary criticism and (...) restores to literature the vocation of disclosing a properly poetic truth higher than that of fact or history. The history of this type of speculative criticism stemming from Porphyry‘s reading of Homer is traced forward through Latin allegorical readings of epic revolving around Virgil. This itinerary highlights the perennial and inevitable tensions between philological and philosophical approaches to interpreting literature as a revelation of truth. (shrink)
This article sets out to establish links between the main concepts of Aristotle's poetics and literary theory, with a view to illuminating some aspects of Aristotle's ethics and also of general ethical theory. We highlight topics such as weak universals (Halliwell), frame-making and free indirect discourse, that seem to us to establish a link between poetics and moral philosophy.
Prompted by Eryximachus’ speech about the relationship between Eros and health in Plato’s Symposium, this paper engages the nature of poiēsis as it arises in the works of Martin Heidegger, Julia Kristeva, and Aristotle. All three address poiēsis as a human activity that points beyond an individual person, and in so doing speaks to what’s possible for human life. Section I addresses Heidegger, whose insistance on the interplay between “earth” and “world” in “The Origin of a Work of Art” speaks (...) to a continuous strife at the heart of poiēsis. Section II explains Kristeva’s situating of rhythm as the unarticulated undulation driving human life, grounding any subsequent articulation in poiēsis. Section III engages Aristotle, who, in his Poetics, opens his discussion of poiēsis and mimesis through rhythmos. All do so, I submit, with catharsis—itself a kind of love and health—in view. This catharsis is seen through an affirmation of poietic possibility in art (Heidegger), the practice of the speaking subject (Kristeva), and tragedy (Aristotle). (shrink)
Usage and limits of analogy and metaphor in Aristotle’s science could be confusing. In some passages Aristotle uses both elements in explanations, and their clarity is defended. However, in other texts the metaphor is excluded from science. In this article, I will analyze the difference between metaphor and analogy and examine in what context can be used the metaphor. My thesis is that Aristotle uses the analogy as an argumentative resource understood by epagogé. On the case of metaphors, they should (...) be excluded from science, but is a valid strategy for some kind of speeches and as a pedagogical element of explanations. (shrink)
What Aristotle meant by katharsis has tantalised philosophers, psychologists, and literary critics alike for centuries - from metaphors of purgation, purification and ritual cleansing, to claims that katharsis is not an experience of the audience but a property of the play1, a release of feeling, or a kind of pleasure 2. Some authors, such as Daniels and Scully3, even deny that katharsis is essentially an aspect of the emotional experiences of an audience. This paper will provide an attempt at gaining (...) insight into the “singular phenomenon”4 of tragic katharsis via the lens of the psychoanalyst Hanna Segal. My paper will begin by looking at some of the arguments I find most persuasive regarding the nature of katharsis; I shall then turn my attention to Segal’s discussion of tragedy. The final part of the paper will attempt to show how Segal’s discussion can shed light on the analysis of tragedy that Aristotle provides in his Poetics. (shrink)
Prefaced by an argument that the ancients understood mimesis as fundamental to being human, and art as therefore essential to human moral and intellectual development, this book starts from the problematic status of the (happily ending) Iphigenia in Poetics. How Aristotle must explicate tragedy to hold Iphigenia as the best thus sets up the exploration of comedy. Chapter two shows that comedy aims at the catharsis of desire and sympathy. This analysis is then applied in detail to Aristophanes’ Acharnians, Shakespeare’s (...) As You Like It and Stoppard’s Arcadia, exhibiting the cross-cultural application of the theory which Aristotle would expect. (shrink)
This paper aims at interpreting (primarily) the first six chapters of Aristotle’s Poetics in a way that dissolves many of the scholarly arguments conceming them. It shows that Aristotle frequently identifies the object of his inquiry by opposing it to what is other than it (in several different ways). As a result aporiai arise where there is only supposed to be illuminating exclusion of one sort or another. Two exemplary cases of this in chapters 1-6 are Aristotle’s account of mimesis (...) as other than enunciative speech (speech that makes truth claims, or representation) and his account of the final cause of tragedy in itself as plot, vis a vis its final cause as regards the audience, which is katharsis. Confusions arising from failure to see the otherness of representation and katharsis leads to an overly intellectualist understanding of the purpose of tragedy. (shrink)
Davis aims to rescue the Poetics from its initial appearance as a book merely about the art of poetry understood as imitation, without imposing upon it a "borrowed significance" beyond Aristotle's intention. This involves three major claims: the Poetics is about the fundamental structure of human action, it is also about human reason or thought, and Aristotle's silence about these alleged topics can be explained.
This is an important book. It consists of twenty-one essays, sixteen of which have not been published before, and sheds light on two of the most difficult points in the Poetics, imitation and catharsis. The order in which the papers are presented has been carefully chosen, so that the overall impression is that of a certain unity of interpretation. In this review we can only bring out a few of the more salient statements of the book.