REDEEMING MIMESIS

REDEEMING MIMESIS Methexis XlV (2001) p. 73-85 Artleulos ANNEJ. MAMARY Of the many real differences between Plato and Aristotle, their view of the mimetie arts might be considered a striking example. In the final book of the Republie, Plato worries about tragie poets, painters, and other craftspeople who produce imitations of imitations, for this sort of "mimetie art is far removed from the truth" (Republie 598b4).1 And as much as he loves the poetry of Homer, Plato declares "no one is to be honored or valued more than the truth" (Republie 595blO-cl). On the other hand, in the Poeties, Aristotle fairly praises imitation as "natural to man from childhood, one of his advantages over the lower animals being this, that he is the most imitative creature in the world and learns at first by imitation" (Poeties 1448b5-9). Both men, however, are aware ofthe power of mimetie art, particularly in the education of citizens for participation in public life. This power is double-edged, having the potential both to destroy the state or to "cure" it. For Aristotle, the connection of mimesis to katharsis offers an especially interesting example ofthe curative-destructive powers of mimesis; Plato often thinks of mimesis as a kind http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Méthexis Brill

REDEEMING MIMESIS

Méthexis , Volume 14 (1): 73 – Mar 30, 2001

REDEEMING MIMESIS


Methexis XlV (2001) p. 73-85 Artleulos ANNEJ. MAMARY Of the many real differences between Plato and Aristotle, their view of the mimetie arts might be considered a striking example. In the final book of the Republie, Plato worries about tragie poets, painters, and other craftspeople who produce imitations of imitations, for this sort of "mimetie art is far removed from the truth" (Republie 598b4).1 And as much as he loves the poetry of Homer, Plato declares "no one is to be honored or valued more than the truth" (Republie 595blO-cl). On the other hand, in the Poeties, Aristotle fairly praises imitation as "natural to man from childhood, one of his advantages over the lower animals being this, that he is the most imitative creature in the world and learns at first by imitation" (Poeties 1448b5-9). Both men, however, are aware ofthe power of mimetie art, particularly in the education of citizens for participation in public life. This power is double-edged, having the potential both to destroy the state or to "cure" it. For Aristotle, the connection of mimesis to katharsis offers an especially interesting example ofthe curative-destructive powers of mimesis; Plato often thinks of mimesis as a kind of impersonation and knowledge of its true nature as a pharmakon, which, as Derrida explains, can be either poison or antidote (98). For both thinkers, then, mimesis has great power - to harm or help. Mimetie art in its educative role is central to moral and political development for both Plato and Aristotle. But beyond the education of children, both Plato and Aristotle recognized education as a lifelong process. For adults already weil educated, with characters already weil formed, the kathartie release Aristotle credits to tragic plays and the impersonation Plato almost always rejects under other circumstances, offer a philosophieal therapy through music and poetry (mousike). In his banishment ofthe poets from the republic, Plato...
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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© Copyright 2002 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0327-0289
eISSN
2468-0974
D.O.I.
10.1163/24680974-90000379
Publisher site
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