Theory of Mimesis

Topics: Aristotle, Aesthetics, Mind Pages: 3 (969 words) Published: November 7, 2014
Theory of Mimesis
‘Mimesis’ is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, no sensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the presentation of the self. In ancient Greece, mimesis was an idea that governed the creation of works of art, in particular, with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and the good. Plato contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. After Plato, the meaning of mimesis eventually shifted toward a specifically literary function in ancient Greek society, and its use has changed and been reinterpreted many times since then. In his theory of Mimesis, Plato says that all art is mimetic by nature; art is an imitation of life. He believed that ‘idea’ is the ultimate reality. Art imitates idea and so it is imitation of reality. He gives an example of a carpenter and a chair. The idea of ‘chair’ first came in the mind of carpenter. He gave physical shape to his idea out of wood and created a chair. The painter imitated the chair of the carpenter in his picture of chair. Thus, painter’s chair is twice removed from reality. Hence, he believed that art is twice removed from reality. He gives first importance to philosophy as philosophy deals with the ideas whereas poetry deals with illusion – things which are twice removed from reality. So to Plato, philosophy is superior to poetry. Plato rejected poetry as it is mimetic in nature on the moral and philosophical grounds. On the contrary, Aristotle advocated poetry as it is mimetic in nature. According to him, poetry is an imitation of an action and his tool of enquiry is neither philosophical nor moral. He examines poetry as a piece of art and not as a book of preaching or teaching. Aristotle replied to the charges made by his Guru Plato against poetry in particular and art in general. He replied to them one by one in...
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