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Aristotle's View of ‘Mimesis’ | How is the term different from that of Plato?

Aristotle's View of ‘Mimesis’ How is the term different from that of Plato?

Aristotle's View of ‘Mimesis’ How is the term different from that of Plato?

Q. What according to Aristotle is ‘mimesis’? Discuss how Aristotle's understanding of the term, 'mimesis' is significantly different from Plato's use of it.

Answer: Aristotle and Plato, both prominent ancient Greek philosophers, had different perspectives on the concept of "mimesis." While both philosophers used the term, their understanding and applications of it differed significantly.

👉  Aristotle's View of Mimesis:

Aristotle's concept of "mimesis" is central to his aesthetics and poetics. In simple terms, mimesis can be translated as "imitation" or "representation." Aristotle used this term to describe the way in which art, particularly literature and drama, imitates or represents life and human actions.

In Aristotle's "Poetics," he discusses mimesis in the context of tragedy. According to Aristotle, tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude. He believed that through mimesis, artists could depict the universal aspects of human experience and evoke emotions in the audience.

👉  Aristotle identified three modes of mimesis:

1. Epic Poetry: This involves the imitation through narrative, like in epic poems.

2. Dramatic Poetry (Tragedy and Comedy): This involves the imitation through action and character, as seen in the performance of plays.

3. Lyric Poetry: This involves the imitation through song and expression of personal emotions.

Aristotle believed that mimesis is a natural human instinct and that through the imitation of life, art has the power to reveal truths about the human condition. He argued that successful works of art achieve a balance between being too realistic and too fantastical, allowing the audience to engage with the representation and experience catharsis, a purging of emotions.

👉  Plato's View of Mimesis:

Plato, in his work "The Republic," expressed concerns about the potentially corrupting influence of art on individuals and society. In particular, he was critical of mimetic arts, which he considered as mere imitations or copies of the physical world. Plato argued that the world we perceive with our senses is a mere shadow or imperfect copy of the true, eternal Forms or Ideas. He believed that art, being a copy of a copy, is twice removed from reality and therefore deceptive.

Plato was particularly wary of the emotional impact of art, suggesting that it could lead individuals away from reason and virtue. He was concerned that the emotional response generated by art might not align with rational understanding and could potentially disrupt the harmony of the soul.

In conclusion, while both philosophers used the term "mimesis," Plato viewed it negatively, associating it with deception and potential moral corruption, whereas Aristotle embraced mimesis as a natural and valuable aspect of art that could lead to a deeper understanding of the human experience.


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