Mimesis: Plato and Aristotle

1536 Words Dec 14th, 2010 7 Pages
Mimesis: Plato and Aristotle

1,515 Words

Philosophy 2348: Aesthetics\

The term ‘mimesis’ is loosely defined as ‘imitation’, and although an extensive paper could be written about the cogency of such a narrow definition, I will instead focus on Plato and Aristotle’s contrasting judgements of mimesis (imitation). I will spend one section discussing Plato’s ideas on mimesis and how they relate to his philosophy of reality and the forms. I will then spend a section examining Aristotle’s differing views on mimesis and how it relates to catharsis. During this deliberation I will prove that as with much of their philosophies, Plato and Aristotle disagree on the concept of mimesis. Plato saw mimesis as deceitful and dangerous; Aristotle saw it
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The city is just and follows laws that reflect the truth. Therefore, imitative art forms - such as most poetry - should be banned from the city.
Plato says X, Aristotle says Y, Plato points to the heavens (forms, universals), Aristotle points to the ground (physical objects, particulars) [Raphael’s School of Athens]. Both philosophers disagreed often and it is no surprise that Aristotle’s thoughts on mimesis are an implicit repudiation of Plato’s thoughts on mimesis.
In Aristotle’s Poetics he splits mimesis into three varieties: the media, the objects and the mode of mimesis. He does this to help build upon his argument that art and mimesis have importance to a society and actually have striking similarities to philosophy.
The media of mimesis is explained as the dissimilarities in “rhythm, speech, and harmony” that authors and poets can use to get their respective messages across. Aristotle points out that many people – scientists and poets – who write in verse, can be called makers of mimesis and that each “maker” uses a different media of mimesis. “...they think... no doubt, that ‘makers’ is applied to poets not because they make mimesis, but as a general term meaning ‘verse-makers’, since they call ‘poets’ or ‘makers’ even those who publish a medical or scientific theory in verse.” Here Aristotle is attempting associate mimesis to more than the arts by referring to mimesis not simply as imitation, but as similar to making. He is placing a
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