In The Poetics Chapter IV Aristotle claims that “man is very imitative and obtains his first knowledge by imitation, and then everybody takes pleasure in imitation” (Poetics, IV, p72). 1. Plato used a theory concerning the painter, who often imitates static objects (such as a bed), and whose creations are necessarily static, and extended this theory to poetry. Find out more about how we use your information in our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Clearly Aristotle is conceiving imitation as a different process from Plato. a character) is representative of a species (such is often claimed of Shakespeare’s characters). The credible is also to be aimed at, the poet should choose “probable impossibilities rather than incredible possibilities” (Poetics, XXIV, p107), and if this is done properly then “idealisation” of events is the natural consequence. All imitation, Plato argues, has little connection with truth; poets work in a similar way to a painter, who imitates the appearance of a bed which in turn is made by a craftsman from an idea in nature (and therefore the work of God). Here the word “choose”, together with the previous arguments, imply that the imitative process, to “make”, must involve some sort of creative input by the poet, as opposed to a merely mechanical copying. Whether this is a direct consequence of the “madness” of the poets is problematic; the process of imitation, according to Aristotle, is no mere reflection without technai. Aristotle’s theory would seem to oppose this; if the poet imitates things not as they are but as they might be, surely imagination if not knowledge comes into play. When, however, imitation is used as a form of diction, Plato comes to the conclusion that any such imitation which mimics men who are not of upright and intelligent nature is undesirable in the ideal city. Theory of Forms and Aristotle's Theory of the Four Causes. It would be just to say that Plato’s philosophical views were greatly influenced by his mentor, Socrates. teleology, universal wholes etc), and in transgressing the particular, can be thought of as “going beyond” nature, though this concept is more aptly applied to the more practical arts. Plato places a bigger emphasis on the soul being the source of true knowledge, while Aristotle argues that true knowledge comes from logic and reason. Like Plato, however, he considers all art a form of mimesis, though Arisotle’s use of the term differs greatly from that of his former teacher. end = FORM Further, that “their forms are types of general laws”; by this it is meant that a particular (e.g. The word mimesis is derived from the Greek meaning imitation. It follows from this that the poet has it within his power to imitate real or imagined events; as S.H. ), expressed through his actions. However, readings of the many ancient and contemporary texts and analyses of the origins and the developments of this ancient art marginalized the role of the Sophists, who were the first to introduce rhetoric to Greece, and usually associated, Mimesis: Plato and Aristotle While Aristotle nowhere makes a clear exposition of his theories on the mechanism of imitation from first principles (as does Plato in Republic X), there is enough material in The Physics to construct a coherent account. Imitation need not be a straight copy of reality (or of transcendent forms); its goals are the aims of the artist who may envision things not as they are but as they could be or should be. We could say that the “matter” of a poem or dramatic play consists of the events and characters portrayed, while the “form” is equivalent to the structure, i.e. His student, Aristotle, who handled the same subject next, held incompatible and sometimes opposing views on the matter. Translated by Allan H. Gilbert in Literary Criticism: Plato to Dryden. Aristotle defines techne as ‘a capacity to make or do something with a correct understanding of the principle involved’. Their views were greatly influenced by their metaphysical beliefs, as were most philosophical theories at the time. We and our partners will store and/or access information on your device through the use of cookies and similar technologies, to display personalised ads and content, for ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development. Plato himself argues in Book X that to be interesting and to give pleasure, poetry of necessity must imitate “the soul easily vexed” (Republic, X, p52), so Plato’s condemnation of Homer comes as no surprise. Thus the object of imitation in tragedy are men who are better than us, and in comedy men who are worse. end = PLOT Importantly, however, Aristotle recognises that the study of matter is not completely subservient to eidos, or form: “art imitates nature, and it is the part of the same discipline to know the form and the matter up to a point” (Physics, II,194a). Z b34-1039a2), and this is what poetry “aims at”. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968. whole, but comprised of various parts. He wrote influential works such as Rhetoric and Organon, which presented these new ideas and theories on rhetoric. Sir Philip Sidney acknowledges this in The Defence of Poesie, saying that Plato made “mistress Philosophy very often borrow the masking raiment of Poesy” (Gilbert 428). Change ), Essay: Art as Imitation in Plato and Aristotle, Essay: The Importance of Science Fiction as Literature, Breezy Stories Vol. The medium of imitation is taken to be three-fold: rhythm, language and harmony are used by practitioners of the arts, either separately or combined. R.P. Yahoo is part of Verizon Media. (Plato’s theory held that the “Forms” were transcendental, static embodiments of the universal which existed completely separately from human reality, and of which the natural world was but a distorted copy.) The action, being an action of men, hence necessarily involves metabasis (change of fortune), perhaps effected through what Aristotle calls peripety or recognition, for these produce pity and fear, and “tragedy is an imitation of actions producing these feelings” (Poetics, XI, p84): Nature: Becoming: motion, a change of form from potentiality to actuality Men are better or worse “as the painters have made them”, and hence the poets as well. Aristotle places much more importance on form than matter, in opposition to the majority of pre-Socratic philiosophers (the Ionians, for example, who sought the basic substance from which all objects in the universe were fashioned). Both are equally ‘for a purpose'” (Guthrie 108). Now nature is in perpetual motion, a motion which is from the potential to the actual, a continual process of Becoming (as opposed to Plato’s theories of Being). Such a claim recalls the dialogue of The Ion, in which “a whole series of the inspired” (Ion, p13) arose from a poet’s recitations; that is, the poet is inspired by the Muse and the audience is in turn filled with inspiration by the poet.