A Comparison of the Philosophies of Plato & Aristotle
And the Ultimate Beneficial Nature of the Tragic Drama
By: Stephanie Cimino
In the various discussions of imitative art there has been a notable disagreement between two distinguished philosophers; Plato and Aristotle. Although it was Plato who first discussed the concept of imitative art, it is my belief that Aristotle was justified in his praise and admiration of imitative art, specifically, the tragic drama. In my discussion on the two philosophers’ dissertations I will begin with the ideas of Plato and his position and requirements for imitative art and its respected uses, after which I will discuss the ideas of Aristotle to show that the tragic drama fulfills Plato’s requirements exhibiting qualities of measurement and finds its intended purpose.
“While Plato insists that artistic imitation, especially tragedy, feeds the passions and misleads the seeker after truth, Aristotle answers that the arts in general are valuable because they repair the deficiencies in nature and that tragic drama in particular is justifiable because of the moral contribution it makes. Tragedy is a means of gaining knowledge, through its presentation of philosophic truths, and is a way of coping with the enthusiastic states common to all men.” (79)
Plato is regarded as “the founder of philosophical aesthetics” (3) His philosophies of art, imitative art, and beauty were centralized around the design of an ideal society and the ideal citizen or statesman discussed in The Republic. To understand Plato’s distrust and dislike of imitation, specifically tragic drama, we must first discuss his definition of Art.
“Art, generally conceived as techne, presupposes a knowing and a making; knowing the end to be aimed at and the best means for achieving the end. – Basic to any one art is the art of measure without which there can be no art at all. For to know the proper length of a... [continues]
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