September 17, 2007 at 4:09 am (Uncategorized)

(Just an intro, not to be counted within response word count)

        Aristotle’s Poetics is a translated work which seeks to engage the reader in the philosophy of art. My own personal experience from reading Aristotle began last year during my experience as a student in English 292: Literary Theory and Criticism. This course was, hands down the most challenging subject that I had encountered in my academic career thus far. Thinking back, I believe that I found it so challenging because never before had I engaged in such a philosophical way of thinking.  (Therefore I would still claim that I am new to philosophical thought and somewhat inexperienced at posing such questions. I am excited to develop this method of thought during this course). We delved into Aristotle’s definition of literature and the written word as art and throughout the term, issues became increasingly complex and raised many questions related to mimesis and morality; the two themes that we will be focusing on in this class during the term. It was extremely interesting to read the passages from his work, coming from the perspective of a student being in a theatre theory course this time around. In the back of my mind, I considered physical movement, sound and all other forms of physical mimesis while reading about the idea of art as imitation (not just thinking in terms of written description, as it is in terms of literature).

          I disagree with Aristotle’s belief that art is found within the product, not within the mind of the artist. I believe to have a product, you must have an artist. One cannot exist without the other. Plato is more sympathetic to the artist and I find I am a much more content with his beliefs regarding the role of the artist, than with Aristotle’s view. The interpretive mind is the absolute starting point to a work of art- it does the transforming of reality to representation.

          For a subject so closely related to mankind and his emotions, (the arts are often referred to as “humanities”) Aristotle organizes his thoughts into extremely regimented and carefully categorized headings and clauses. His descriptions and explanations seem extremely scientific and unappealing to the emotions of humankind- even his terminology reinforces scientific jargon: “primary facts,” “natural order,” “examination” and “classification.”

        His terminology reflects how he sees the creation and absorption of art: he strongly advocates for structure and form to a composition he ‘dissects’ a work of art and in terms of tragedy, concludes that plot is the most important aspect to the structure of a good work of art. Aristotle believed that the merit or value of a work of art depended solely on the quality of the physical product. He disregards the feelings, emotions, background of the artist, disconnecting him (the artist) from his own work completely. His focus is on whether the work produced (the end result such as that of a scientific experimentation) resembles reality enough to even be considered good.  

 I’d take Plato any day! 🙂

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