Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, theorist, scientist and researcher par excellence. Plato was his teacher and along with his teacher Plato, he is by and large , considered as one of the most influential ancient philosophers in a number of logical, metaphysical and philosophical arenas, together with political theory (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1998). Aristotle’s works encompass many subjects – including biology, physics, metaphysics, zoology, moral science, aesthetics, poetry, drama, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics, and governance – and set up the first all-inclusive and complete system of western political philosophy (Russell, 1972). “As to the origin of the poetic art as a whole, it stands to reason that two operative causes brought it into being, both of them rooted in human nature: (1) the habit of imitating is congenial to human beings from childhood…and so is (2) the pleasure that all men take in works of imitation” (Aristotle, Poetics).
As far as human nature is concerned, poetry, according to Aristotle, is an essential component, and the desire to put pen to verse, rhyme or poetry emanates from an inborn inquisitiveness and interest to mimic the happenings, events and things around us. Similar to this aspiration to replicate the things around us, the preference for poetry is a natural reaction in all mankind. Aristotle proposes to discuss poetry, which he defines as a means of mimesis, or imitation, by means of language, rhythm, and harmony. As creatures that thrive on imitation, we are naturally drawn to poetry. He intends to learn poetry by examining and considering its fundamental parts and then and there sketching general inferences. The portion of the Poetics that survives discusses mainly tragedy and epic poetry.
Aristotle also penned down an essay on comedy that is nowhere to be found. He defines poetry as the derivative or copied, use of language, tempo, and synchronization, disjointedly or in the grouping. Poetry is the art of using rhythmic and aesthetic attributes of a language. It is representational in the sense that it produces a symbol or image of things and happenings in the world, distinct to philosophy, for example, which presents thoughts, notions, and philosophies. We humans are indeed drawn to artificiality and pretense, and therefore since we can casually and calmly perceive reproductions and representation of things.
“It is not sentiments that make history, it is our actions that make history” (Kevin Rudd, Apology to the Stolen Generations) “Tragedy is an imitation not of men but of a life, an action…” (Aristotle, Poetics). Aristotle points to the nature and significance of the plot while constituting a tragedy. The starring role of characters, of “men,” is subordinate to the plot or subservient to a life full of “action.” The tragedy is a thoughtful and grave form that deals with great and high subjects. According to Aristotle, tragic poets should follow the path of portrait artists who put emphasis on the best characteristics of an individual by moderating and restraining their negative behavior and qualities and giving much importance to the wow aspects, goodness and moral standards of the subject. For him, tragedy is the most sophisticated and advanced version of poetry concerned with great matters.
Comedy is also the most cultured version of poetry concerned with small issues. Tragedy according to Aristotle has several features: (1) it is representational, (2) it is thoughtful, (3) it is a storyteller, (4) it encompasses regularity and harmony, both occur in different amalgamations in dissimilar slices of the tragedy, (5) it is performed rather than narrated, and (7) it provokes feelings of misfortune and anxiety and then explode these feelings through catharsis. A tragedy must have a plot, a thought, oddity, style, melody, and manifestation (Spark Notes Blog, n.d.)
Aristotle proceeds a scientific approach to poetry, which has pros as well as cons. He views poetry as a natural phenomenon, with observations and analysis first, and then makes tentative hypotheses and commendations. His notion of mimesis helps in the explanation of what is characteristic and distinct about our experience and understanding of art. Poetry is imitative, thereby meaning that it invites us to envisage its subject-matter as factual and genuine while admitting that it is, in fact, imaginary and illusory. On contrasting poetry with philosophy, Aristotle’s concern was not that poetry is mimetic because it portrays what is real while philosophy is non-mimetic because it portrays only ideas. Rather, the point which he highlighted is that the ideas discussed in philosophical texts are as real as any ideas ever are. When we go through Aristotle’s thoughts, philosophies and ideas on art, we get directly connected with the ideas, and there is nothing more real to imagine.
We do not call the police force or crime squad when we see an actor killing another actor on stage because we know that we are not seeing a real event but only two actors imitating real-world likelihoods. Since we are aware of the mimesis involved in art, we are standing apart enough that we can reflect on what we are experiencing and so learn from it. Countersigning a murder in real life is emotionally scarring but witnessing a murder on stage gives us a chance to reflect on the nature and causes of human violence so that we can lead a deeper, thoughtful contemplative and sensitive life.
Aristotle insists on the importance and superiority of poetry, in general, and plots, in particular because the plot is in the long run what we can learn from a piece of art. The plot of a story, as the term is used in the Poetics, is not the arrangement of events so much as the logical relationships that exist between events. For Aristotle, the more close-fitted or tighter the logical relationships between events, the better the plot or art. The logical relationships between events in a story help us to observe logical relationships between the events in our own lives. In principle or spirit, Aristotle’s poetry shows us designs and patterns in human experience that we can then use to make sense of our own experience.
StanfordEncyclopedia of Philosophy. (1998). Retrieved fromhttps: //plato .stanford .edu /entries /aristotle-politics/
Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy, Simon & Schuster, 1972. Book One. Ancient Philosophy, Part II. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Chapter XXII.
Spark Notes Blog. Poetics. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttps://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/aristotle/section11/