Aesthetic imitation and imitators in aristotle, by katherine e. gilbert


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Aesthetic imitation and imitators in aristotle, by katherine e. gilbert

  1. 1. Philosophical ReviewAesthetic Imitation and Imitators in AristotleAuthor(s): Katherine E. GilbertReviewed work(s):Source: The Philosophical Review, Vol. 45, No. 6 (Nov., 1936), pp. 558-573Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical ReviewStable URL: .Accessed: 23/09/2012 13:44Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Duke University Press and Philosophical Review are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Philosophical Review.
  2. 2. AESTHETIC IMITATION AND IMITATORS IN ARISTOTLEJ Aristotlehad leftus a listof classes of humanbeingsin order F of excellence,as Plato did in the Phcedrusl he would appar-ently have placed poetsand imitators or near thefirst in class alongwith philosophers, musicians, and lovers,and not as Plato did, inthe sixth class, below tradesmenand gymnasts.But if he haddone thisit would have been because the Plato of the Symposiumhad suggestedto him how he mightrefutetheapparentargumentand pessimisticmood of Republic X. Aristotlehas left no ex-plicitanalysisof thetermimitation applied to fine as art,but thereis abundantmaterialin his works for the construction an hy- ofpothesis as to its meaning.And when that conceptionhas beenbuiltup, it is striking note thatthe imitative to artistshares withthephilosopher love of learning and concernwithuniversalforms,with the lover a tendency toward divine madness,and with themusicianfondness harmony for and rhythm, powerto depictchar-acter,and moral efficacy. Clearlythe strainof aestheticreflectionwhich Aristotlecarried forwardfromPlato was not the one inwhich paintingsand dramas are describedas pale and inertre-plicas of substantialrealities, but ratherthe one-much modified,secularized,and broughtdown to earth-in which the love ofTrue Essence increasingly inspires makers of fair forms whomore and morein theirupward progresscreatemovingimagesofeternity. The mostdamagingassociationattaching theword imitation tois that of its parasitic status. Plato was often troubledby thisweakness of imitative it art.2An imitation, seemedto him,is no-thingin and by itself; taken apart fromits original,it collapses.And beingnothing, can do nothing. lacks substance,function, it Itutility.Rational esteem obviouslybelongs to such being as caninitiateprocesses,and needs nothingfor its existenceand activitybeyondwhat it can furnish fromitself.If drama mustbe definedas second or third-hand process,blindmimickry, if paintings andare littleelse thaninertmirrorings somemoreauthentic of reality, 1248 2Typical passagesare Ion 533; Rep. 596; Sophist234. 558
  3. 3. AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 559thenclearlydrama and paintingdeserve to be stigmatized sla- asvish whilethe originalpattern may be honoredas royaland excel-lent.This damagingassociationdoes not attach to the word imi-tation for Aristotle.For him the individuality an imitative ofart-form could be distinguished analysisintoits variousaspects byas any otherkind of naturecould. He proceededwithas littlein-hibitionto the statement the functions poetryas of virtue, of ofand a soul was ascribedto tragicsubstanceas to the livingperson.Indeed, Aristotleso construedimitativeart that an example ofit could containmore essence than its apparent original-mensactions and passions in real life. The first reason that imitative ranks high for Aristotleis artthat it participatesin the productivepower of art as such. Theenergy involvedin theveryconceptof the genus qualifiesforhimthose arts devised to give pleasure and ornamentleisure as wellas the utilitarian arts. Plato had alreadydefined as production artaccordingto rightreason,and had even classed a certaintypeofartist withthephilosophers thefirst in group.But whenPlato usedthe termart in this complimentary sense he meant the employ-mentof order for the understanding controlof nature,as in andthe arts of the physician,statesman,and pilot. The absence of art in this sense is often assigned by him as the most obvious characteristic the pleasure-producing of activities-fluteand lyre- playing,tragedyand comedy, and persuasivespeech. By the true art of building, says, we construct house,but by thedream- he a likegraphicartswe sketch a replicaof it.3Aristotle, theother in on hand, was disposed to assign to the pleasure-producing speciesof art all the wisdom and potencycharacteristic the genus. The of logical way to begin understanding Aristotlesgolden opinion of his poets and imitators thento examinefurther generalconcept is of art. Nature and art, Aristotlesays, are the two initiating forcesin the world. The difference thatnaturehas her principle mo- is of tion withinherself,while "fromart proceed the thingsof which the formis in the soul of the artist". But if the dynamicprin- ciple inheresin natureand not in art,at least art is in this respect of bringing thingsintobeing natures closest analogue. Although Sophist266. 4 Met. io32a.
  4. 4. 560 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV.-as will be more fullydevelopedlater-the relationship betweenart and reason is close, the firstidea suggestedby the termartto Aristotleis productiveforce.And this applies to all typesofart from the doctors curing of bodies throughthe architectsbuilding houses to thepoets and musiciansproduction pleas- of ofure. "All art is concernedwith coming-into-being, with con- i.e.,trivingand considering how something may come into being."Art has to do with the making of thingsmade.6 The arts areamong the principlesor sources of motionand change.7As na-ture was primarilyfor Aristotlenot a sum of entities,such asstones,plants,and animals,but Natura Naturans,the vital proc-ess workingits way out into and up through these entities,thedevelopingand reproducing, coming-to-be and passing-awayofthings,so art was for him a doing and shaping,a movement setup in some mediumby the soul and hand of the artist.This beingAristotlesview of art in general,it is not surprising findfine toart forhim,not a sum of art-objects lyinginertin a museum, butpatternedenergy.His approachto art was, if possible,even morethe physiologists than the anatomists,for, although he drawsin detailthe bonyframework a tragedy of and always emphasizesthe importance the schemaof beautifulthings, is stillmore of heconcernedwiththe functions beautifulbodies. In the first of sen-tence of the Poetics he serves notice that he is stickingto theetymological meaningof his subject (poetry-making)by statingthat he is concernedwith the specificdynamicsof each kind ofpoetry.Concerning music we are told that it is made out of mo-tion, has an affinity activity,8 performsfour functions.9 for andHe tellsus how forceentersintopoems,plays through them,andissues out of them. Charged fromwithoutat the beginningbythe potencyof genius,poems and melodies and harmoniesworkout theirmission,so to speak,by purging, relaxing,elevating, andstraightening human souls. Art, then, is human making in the image of divine making,forart emulatesthe energetic processesof nature,and God is thePrime Mover of nature.Though less in degree,Phidiass wisdomis parallel to the wisdom of the philosopherwhose concern is 5Eth. Nic. II4oa. 6Met. I025b. Ibid. IOI3a. Prob. 920a. 9Pol. I339a; 4oab; 4ia.
  5. 5. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 56iwiththe divineultimate principle theuniverse, of and whosewaysare themselves godlike.0Nature furnishes law by whicha man thebegetshis child,but an architect draws houses out of stoneson ananalogous plan." How thendoes God make? Accordingto a con-stantlyrepeated patterntaken finallyfrom biological process-the development formout of matter, the maturation the of or ofcompleteindividualout of the shapelessgerm.Aristotlecomparesformor fulfilment being awake, and matteror potentiality toto beingasleep. Or actuallyperforming act is formand merely anbeing able to perform act is matter.12 the Nature works thenbyurgingall thingsto realize theircapacitiesto the full,and the soulof the artistplantsthatsame drive toward self-completion withinsome matter.A bronze bowl issues fromthe metal on the sameessentialplan as the oak grows fromthe acorn. The productive energythatanimatesall art will thus save even artimitative frombeingmere lifelesscopying.The second reasonwhy imitativeart ranks high for Aristotleis that the relation-ship of resemblance involvedin imitation does not for him implythe monotony bare repetition. of Althoughhe teaches that it isthe business of fineart to imitatethe passions and actions andcharactersof men, the resemblance not to be limp and blood- isless. Artisticimitationis for him invention.The poets powerof imitating what entitles is him to be called a maker,Aristotlesays.13Surely in some sense when imitation occurs, like meetslike. But Aristotleis carefulto explain thatwhen like meetslikein any significant fashionin the universeof nature or art we donot have the phenomenon identicaltwins. After noticingthat ofthe most striking characterof a civic community the creation isof concordthrough cohabitation oppositeclasses of people, the ofrichand poor,youngand old, theAristotelian authorof De Mundoproceedsto generalize. It may perhapsbe thatnaturehas a likingfor contrariesand evolves harmony of themand notout of similarities.... The artsapparent- out ly imitatenaturein thisrespect. The art of painting mingling the by in picture the elementsof white and black, yellow and red, achieves representationswhich correspondto the originalobject. Music too, mingling togethernotes,highand low, shortand prolonged,attainsto ?EtIid. o48 I, a. " Met. I034a. "Ibid. I 048a, b. " Poet. I45ib.
  6. 6. 562 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV. harmony different a single amid voices;while writing,mingling vowels and consonants, composes them its art.The saying of all foundin Heracleitus obscure tothesameeffect: the was "Junctions wholes are: and notwholes, which that agreesand that which differs, which that produces harmony that and which produces from youget discord; all oneandfrom yougetall". one Thusthen single a harmony orders composition thewhole- the of heaven earth thewhole and and Universe-by mingling themost the of contrary principles. . forcing . them live in agreement one to with another the universe, thuscontriving permanence the in and the of The whole. causeof this permanencetheagreement theelements, is of andthereason this of agreementtheir is equalproportion."In a similarvein Aristotleargues thatthe coming-to-be things ofinvolvesthe interaction differents much as the assimilation of asof like to like. "It is a law of naturethatbody is affected body, byflavorby flavor, color by color." Yet if the termswere absolute- aly alike no affecting could occur; nothingwould happen. Theagent and patientin the process of growth mustbe alike in genusand unlikein species. Withinthe commonsubstratum drivingtheforce for change comes fromthe tensionof opposite principles,one operating,the other undergoingan operation., A second damagingassociationof the termimitationis thusseen to be absent in Aristotlesusage. The conditionfavorableto creativeactivity throughout cosmosis notbare like to like- thefutilerepetition-butthemutualadaptation contrary of principles.New livingcreaturescan only be born when male meets femaleand not whenmale meetsmale, and a similarcondition required is for artisticprocreation. rightratio must adapt the two terms Ato each other, but foractual birthin beautytheremustbe opposite functioning the two members the coalition.Tragedians have in ofthemselvesan affinity the noble charactersthey depict,and forcomediansare in some sense like the inferior men of theirplays.A good portrait imitates mans character a the through delineating of his face. Phrygianmusic is like a Phrygianmood, and Dorian melodysober like the characterit expresses. But the poems and melodies and portraitscome into being by the marriageof the artistssoul,whichcarriesin itselfthe formof what is to be, with some bodily mediumin real life. Thus the makingof beautiful formsthrough imitation involvespolaritywithinthe resemblance, 14 396b. 1"De Gen. et Cor. 323b,324a.
  7. 7. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 563and is finally varianton the themeof the development form a ofout of matter."Imitationin the sense in which Aristotleappliesthe word to poetry, . .. seen to be equivalentto producingor iscreatingaccordingto a trueidea whichformspart of the defini-tionof art in general."6 In the third place we mightexpect Aristotleto put poeticalimitatorsinto the same high class with philosophersbecause ofhis various allusions to the intellectual elementin imitation. Helikens the imitative the intellectual to process both in its instinc-tiveoriginand in its fullflowering, one is justified believing and inthat progressin universality the sign of excellence in fineart isas it is explicitly statedto be in intellection. Aristotlepicturesthatprogressin the development knowledge, of and we may constructthe parallel forfineart,thus exhibiting kinshipof the two. In thethe case of knowledgethe simplesense-experience comes first. Ifthe sensationcan persistor "make a stand", and not be carriedaway in a meaninglessflux of animal responses,we have whatAristotlecalls the presence of the earliest universalin the soul. But if the sensationdies as soon as it is born,and thereappearsno nisus toward memorynor the accumulationof skill,thentheindispensable germof humanknowledgeis lacking.The sensationmust be remembered;the memorymust become meaningfulforcommonexperience; commonexperiencemustbe rationalizedbythe arts and sciences; the arts and sciencesmustbe integrated by the all-embracing wisdomof philosophy.17 Althoughthe materialon the development the functionof of imitation not massed in one place as is thisdiscussionof growth is in knowledge, maybe assembledfromvarious places and is like it and in part coincident with the other.Justas human intelligencedoes not begin to function untilan elementary power to univer- salize, to transcend particular the event,arrivesin the soul, so infineart a first is condition some sort of combination the parts ofintoa whole."The beautifuldiffer fromthosewho are notbeauti- ful and works of art fromrealitiesin that in themthe scatteredelementsare combined."18 to However, corresponding the sensa-tionsas pre-logical in elements knowledge, thereare pre-technical 8 S. H. Butcher,Aristotles Theory Poetryand Fine Art I53. of 7 An. Post. g9b,iooa. 1 Pol. I28ib.
  8. 8. 564 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV.elementswhich antedate artisticcombination but are necessaryto its existence.Such would be the colorsin painting, separate thenotes of the scale in music,words with theirproperties clear- ofness and meaningfulness poetry in and rhetoric, incidents suffer- ofing,of reversalof fortune, discovery, identity, of of furnished bythe history individualsand nationsand gristfor the tragedian, ofand the particularthoughts and feelingsof men used as materialby all literarycomposers. The raw matterof art begins to be organized when reasoncombinesthese elementsin certain proportions. The firststandof a universalin knowledge matched a first is by standof combina-tion in art. Such would be the agreeable complementariness ofcolors in painting,and the harmonious relations of tones inmusic.Otherexamples would be the ornament metaphor of whichis "a sign of genius, since a good metaphorimpliesan intuitive of inperception the similarity dissimilars" the degree of kin- ;19ship in the parties to a deed of horror; and the directionof amovement fromhappinessto miseryor miseryto happinessin aplay. These are all simplethreadsof connection withan affectivequality; and theymarkthe first stage of the weaving of elementsinto beautifulwholes. The next step in the growthof knowledgeafter persistencein memoryis called "learningby experience".A doctor,for in-stance,has thisgrade of knowledgewhen he can name the natureof an illness though he does not possess any general scientificprinciples concerningit. It is the perceptionwithout rational ofgrounding the totalsignificance a thing.Though experience ofis less excellentthansciencein respectto theamountof rationalityembodied in it, it sometimessurpasses the higher types in itsimmediate utility. doctorwho through A empirical knack,throughresponsivenessto the characterof the disease immediately be-forehim,can cure this particularsick man,may be betterfor themomentthan his superiorsin scientific medicine.20 The aestheticanalogue to this empiricalfacultywould apparently illustrated beby the immediateresponsivenessof the soul to the soul-moodin music. A simple arc of stimulusand response seems to bind 9 Poet. 14-9a. 20 Afet. 98ia.
  9. 9. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 565togetherthe sensitivehearer and the tune. No inferenceis ne-cessary. The nature of the tune is felt at once. When Aristotledeclares musical modes to be the most imitative all artforms, ofhe means that the resemblance music to moral states is more ofdirectthanthe resemblance a pictureor statueto an emotional ofcontent."Rhythm and melody supply imitationsof anger andgentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and of all thequalitiescontrary these,and of the otherqualitiesof character. toExperienceprovesthis.For we experience effect the upon our soulof hearingthem."21"The Hypophrygian mode has a character ofaction (hence in the Geryone march-forth armingare com- the andposed in thismode) ; and theHypodorianis magnificent stead- andfast. . . . The Phrygian is exciting and orgiastic."22 Musicsrendering characteris not as rich in universalsignificance of astragedysimitation a completeand serious action, for tragedy ofpresentsthe destiniesof a group of humanbeings; but it is moreeffortless.There is, as it were, an underground passage connect-ing the mobileenergyof the soul and the mobileenergyof musicthat gives the one quick access to the other. Aristotle says thatthe aestheticexperienceof enjoyingthe like-ness in a portrait also on thislevel of learningor experiencing. is"The reason of the delightin seeing the pictureis that one is at thethesame timelearning-gathering meaning things, of e.g.,thatthe man there is so-and-so."23 But the imitation a portraitis ofnot as immediateas the imitation a tune,and the pleasure of of isdetecting resemblance therefore, the perhaps as keen,but cer-tainlymore roundabout. takingin the whole sense of a picture, In towe do not respondintuitively a stimulus, but we draw an in-ference,and feel a semblanceof the scholars delightwhen newlightbreaksin on themind.For, says Aristotle, while shapes copycharacter,they exhibit rather the symptomsor deposits of amentalhabit than the mentalhabit itself.24 is the body of man Itthat the portraitmust render,and bodies are molded by passionbut are not the very stuffof passion. The pleasure of learningoccurs in this case when a patternof line or color has achievedsuch unitythat we recognizenot only the class of thingintended 21 Pci. I34oa. 22 Prcb. 922b. 23Poet. i448b. 24Poi. I340a.
  10. 10. 566 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV.(man) but the member the class (So-and-so). We enjoy palpa- oftingthe essentialsoul beneaththe outwardshow of bodilyfigure.We have "gatheredthe meaning"in that we have discoveredanidentityof character connectinga flesh-and-blood person andwell-composed pigment.Right use of complementary color helpsrepresentation, Aristotle says. But representation arrives whenthe significant object shinesthrough paintor line,and thelogi- thecal label of a name can be attachedto the whole. "The mostbeau-tiful colors laid on withoutorder [that is, withoutcooperationtoward a single end] will not give one the same pleasure as asingleblack-and-white sketchof a portrait."25 The function imitation of reaches its goal when it produces agood tragedy.For while music and painting and sculpture imitatecharacter, and are meaningful wholes,the "true idea" accordingto whichtheyare producedis not as richand strongas the unityof plot. Degree of universality measureshonorableness Aris- fortotleboth in knowledgeand in art. Order and symmetry, dis- theposingof partstoward a singleend, are presentin all imitations;but the tragicplot,withits greatercompass,shows aesthetic orderat its maximum. Withinits combining forceit holdstogether moreparts and more varied media of representation than other art-forms.Aristotlecompares the organic unityof a musical modeto a political community with its ruling and subject part.26 Hemighthave compareda tragedyto an empirewith politicalcom-munities its members;for melodiesare but parts of plays. Or, assince charactersare also but parts of plays,he mighthave com-pared tragedyto an organismof organisms. The unityof action in a well-contrived tragedycorresponds tothe full-blown rationality science in the world of intellect. of In-deed, Aristotle goes farther, and in one place calls tragedy"philo-sophical".27 The superiority science (and theart whichis equiv- ofalent to the scientific controlof nature) over experienceis notonly its generality, stretch its and compass,but its explanationofwhy thingscome to pass. "Knowledge and understanding belongto art ratherthan experience,and we suppose artiststo be wiserthan men of experience . . .; and this because the former knowthe cause, but the latterdo not. For men of experienceknow that 2 Poet. I45oa, b. Pol. 1254a. Poet. I45ib.
  11. 11. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 567the thingis so, while the othersknow the why and the cause."2 8Now it is the function a plotto exhibitthe why of humandes- oftiny.And the more convincingly causal sequence is given,the thebetterthe plot. "The only eventsof which absolutenecessitycanbe predicatedare those which formpart of a recurrent series",29Aristotlesays, and the virtueof a tragedyis for him the exhibi-tionof miseryor happinessas necessary, something as thatunderthe circumstances to be, as part of a series whichmight had recurbecause illustrative law. "The poets functionis to describe, ofnot the thingthat has happened,but a kind of thingthat mighthappen,i.e., whatis possibleas beingprobableor necessary. The"30mostambitious poet will imitate "action" whichis a continuous ancurve of destinyabsorbingand sweepingforwardby the law ofits movement particular all eventsand individualpersons, a line asresolves points. He will sketch in a systemof men and thingsas thepattern theirinteraction of bringsweal or woe; the diagramof a kings rise and fall; the bonds that tie men to tragicdeaths.In thedevelopment the characters of and speechesof a tragedy thelogic of the necessaryrules over all; marvels,discoveries, rever-sals, choruses,mustall seem links in the fatefulchain. Art is always less than philosophyfor Aristotle, but the kindand amountof unityrequiredby him for a good tragedy (withits several incidentsso closely connectedthat the transposalorwithdrawal of any one of them will disjoin or dislocate thewhole31) makes it a second and close parallel. All works of artwhich have plots or stories for theirsoul are livingorganisms,but the tragedyis more concentrated than the epic, and so is asuperiortype of imitation. The improvisations that were the an-cestorsof tragedyand comedy, hymns, panegyrics,and lampoons, ofwere imitations characterand passion, and had, so to speak,amoebic souls, but they grew ratherthan were contrived.Thespiritof reverence of revelryconveyedby themwas scarcely orthe result of fullyself-conscious art. They were more properlyon the stage of experience. By thus comparing the artisticfunction imitation the in- of totellectual function-as indeed Aristotle himself justifies us in M Met. 98ia. W. D. Ross, Aristotle 8i. soPoet. 145ia. "1Poet. I45ia.
  12. 12. 568 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV.doing-we have watchedthe development theuniversalelement ofin art froma slighttwo-term relationship its completerealiza- totion in the embodied logic of a tragic plot. For imitation, likeeverything in Aristotle, matter else has and form.32 RepublicX InPlato treatsimitation as an expandingbut as a highlydimin- notished function. the Idea passes downwardthroughthe em- Asployment the craftsman that of the imitator, progressive- of to itly narrows its compass. A painterof a bed not only copies thespace-and-time bed that some carpenterhas made, but "lightlytouches on a small part even of it", because the paintergives aspecial view of the bed, eitheroblique or direct,accordingto theangleof vision.33 Thus in Plato we have theattenuation a univer- ofsal in art to the limitof individualvision,while in Aristotletheuniversalis itselfpresentin art, and is called "serious and philo-sophical".34 If the philosophicalnature of a good tragedy suggests therightof imitative to be classifiedwith philosophy art among thehighesttypesof human product,the connection betweenpleasureand imitationsuggests an affinity with the true love of beautyand the music that echoes the orderlymotionsof the stars. Forpoets do more than create a perfectwhole accordingto the truerule that is in theirmind.They make thatrule,that rightreason,thatphilosophy, attractive.The pleasantness imitative might of artbe called-adapting a phrase of Aristotles-the bloom on theface of reason. Plato had distinguished betweenkindsof pleasureand had even called the pleasure in abstractmathematical form"pure".35 But on the whole he placed the pleasuresconnected withimitations in a relationshipof oppositionto what is excellent.Doubtlesshis verysensitiveness the charmof poetry to made himfear its commonuse as a dangeroussorcery.With Plato, Aris-totle recognizedthat pleasure is an integralpart of the process 82 It is tempting to thinkthat this schemeof the range of the imitativefunction-from potentiality instinct its actuality plot-creation its in to in-was at least subconsciously Aristotles in mindwhenhe added, aftertheimitative instinct, secondinstinctive a cause of poetry "the sense of har- inmony and rhythm" (Poet. i448b). For, as we have seen,imitation, properlynourished, developsintoa prerogative instance harmony. of And rhythmistheprinciple order,and the highest of orderis necessary order.We delightin rhythm because it regularizes and numbers motion(Prob. 920b). Can it inbe thatthe two causes of fineart are imitation its mostnaive and in itsperfected phases,its matter and form? 33 Sophist 598. Poet. 145 ib. 3Philebus 5I.
  13. 13. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 569of imitative art. He even called the productionof pleasure thefinalcause or ultimatepurpose of such art.36 But he reexaminedthe conceptof pleasure,and on the basis of his findings countedpleasureableness virtueand not a handicap.Aristotles a treatmentof the relationshipbetween fine art and pleasure is, then,thefourth reason whywe should expecthim to rate poets and imita-tors in the first class. ApparentlyAristotlesmost consideredopinion on the natureof pleasuremade it notan independent class of entities an ac- butcent and high lighton the function with which it was associatedand fromwhichit derivedits ethicalrating.37 such,a function Ascouldbe wolfish asinine; thepleasurequalifying performance or itscould be through legitimate a metonymy called by the same hardname.38 But Aristotlethought was a mistaketo judge of pleas- iture in generalby its lowest connections and manifestations. Onlythosewho knowthepleasuresthataccompany purethought theandlisteningto music and the viewing of sculptureknow pleasureat its best and in its essence.39For pleasureis carriedalong by thenisus of nature toward the good; just as nature may turn up"worms and beetles and other ignoble creatures"that belie hergeneral good intention,40 pleasure, though fundamentally so theally of reason and nobility, may be the gratification accompany-ing the lowest impulses.In general pleasure is for Aristotlethe ofsymptomof the fulfillment desire, the consciousnessof thefullnessof life,41 and when these are in accordance with rightreason,thenalso pleasureis in accordancewithright reason.Whenhe says that the finalcause of tragedyis to produce pleasure heclearlymeans that a mentalstate is aimed at whichis reasonableand choiceworthy. Since pleasures are for Aristotle"peculiar" to the activitieswhich theyintensify and crown,it is obviouslynecessaryto un-derstand the actual functionsof imitationsin order to under-stand theiremotionalcolor. The pleasuresin questionaccompanyprocesses of repletionand purgation, and also uniform, continu-ous activity. Arts humblest function to satisfy wantor relieve is aa pain, on the analogyof the reliefto hungerfurnished food. by 38Poet.1453b. " Eth.Nic. 1174b. 38 Magna Moralia 12.05b. 3 Eth. Nic. 1176a. 4 Magna Moralia 1205a. 4 Eth. Nic. I I75a.
  14. 14. 570 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [VOL. XLV.Sleep, food,drink,and music make "care to cease".42Sicknessesboth of soul and body arise out of excess and defect,and whena mans energyis depletedby the days labor,his power may berestored normalbytheenlivening to stimulation imitative of music.As art may thus fillup the empty places in the soul, and increaseenergy, it may clear our souls of unhealthy so accumulations. Thepsycho-physical systemcalls as often for reducingand catharticpotionsas for nervingtonics.There are certainemotionswhich,though wholesome properdegree,readilybecomepoisons.There inare personswho have smallresistance theseemotions to and fallillof themwithgreatease. "Feelings,such as pityand fear,or again,enthusiasm, exist very strongly some souls, and have more or inless influence over all. Some persons fall into a religiousfrenzy,whomwe see as a resultof the sacred melodies-when theyhaveused the melodiesthat excite the soul to mysticfrenzy-restoredas thoughtheyhad foundhealing and purgation.Those who areinfluenced pity and fear-and every emotionalnature-must byhave a like experience, and othersin so far as each is susceptibleto such emotions, and all are in a mannerpurgedand theirsoulslightenedand delighted."43 Aristotlecalls the productionof sucha catharsisthe peculiarpleasure of tragedy." It has been arguedthat in the missingchapter of the Poetics on comedy the finalpurpose of the lightersort of drama may have been given as thepurgation, perhaps of envyand malice,perhaps of impurepleas-ure."5Not onlymusic,then,but the drama serveshumanity un- byburdening heavysouls and inducing peculiarpleasureof relief. the The pleasure takes the color of the function;but the defini-tionof the pleasure is not exhaustedby the statement the char- ofacterof the function. And pleasurescapacityto exalt the statusofthe imitative arts lies in the something plus thatit carriesbeyondutility.For if theexcellence of thepleasureof tragedy were noth- ing more than the virtue of purging,then the tragedianwould become a physicianof the soul, and we would rank him in the fourthclass with the otherphysicians.Or, if one thinksof the relaxingand correcting that music accomplishesas instrumental to state-education, then the imitatormay be classed with good 4Pci. I339a. 4"Ibid. 1342a. Poet. I453b. 4Lane Cooper,An AristotelianTheoryof Comedych. ix.
  15. 15. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 571servantsof the commonweal, perhapsin the thirdclass withthepoliticians,economists, tradesmen. and But thepleasureis a super-veningperfection, gives to as muchas it takes fromthe func- andtion which it accompanies."For an activityis intensified its byproperpleasure; e.g., it is those who enjoy geometrical thinkingthat become geometers and grasp the various propositions better,and, similarly, those who are fondof music and building, and soon, make progress in their proper functionby enjoying it."146The pleasure which is in a sense only the feeling-tone a vital ofprocess, in anothersense is beyond-superior to-vital process,and has the power to turn back upon it and transfigure The it.great playwright who cures souls throughhis magic is not so-cially useful; he is glorious.And that is why he belongs in thehighestclass that can be named. And the musicianwho enablesus to spend our leisurein rationalenjoyment not a merebene- isfactor; he is a genius. For Aristotle,himself, among his variousstatementsof the nature of pleasure, declares it to be at itsbest,no longerthe handmaidenof function, selfsufficient but andcompleteenergizing. the pleasuresof intellectual Of and aestheticcontemplation can be affirmed theylack nothing, it that thattheyare fittedto give a godlike contentto that life of leisure forwhichthe life of toil exists. The fifthand final ground upon which Aristotlewould pre- insumablyhave placed imitators the first class is his interpreta-tion of their temperament. Poetry, Aristotle says, "demands aman with a special gift for it", and this gift proves to be theplasticity typicalof the melancholic. The dramatist must be ableto feelhimselfintothe experiences is portraying. mustnot he Heonlybe able to see the scenes he is describing if theywere be- asfore his very eyes. His body must go throughthe very motionsthat the humandrama shapingitselfin his fancyrequires.47 Thisis thetypeof personwhose storywill be convincing. mustlive Hethe life of his brainchildren he works.The man withan innate asfacility takingon shape readilyis theborngenius. for It is this euplasticitycharacteristic the "tribe of imitators" ofwhich has much to do with Platos poor opinionof them.Theseclever multiform gentlemen could do everything, were noth- and Eth. Nic. II75a. 4"Poet. 1455a, b.
  16. 16. 572 THE PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW [ Their magicalassumptions any part,theirfacile apings of ofgesture, look,and manner, were carriedthrough the expense of atunityand consistency character.Plato admired steadfastness ofof purpose and singleness function;in his ideal state one man ofplayed one part only. Thereforethisbewildering chameleon, whocould assimilatehimselfeasily to alien moulds,and neverseemedto settle himselfto any definableemployment form,hardly or thefitted programof the rightsort of city.He was two removesfromthe philosopher. But Aristotlesphilosopher, thoughdevotedto truth, was nonethe less euplastic.To be whollyrationalis to adopt oneselfwithinfinitelygraduated responsiveness the peculiar nature of the tomembers the objectiveworld.As the hand is thetool of tools,48 ofso in the end is the mindthe formof forms.49 The soul in know-ing mustsomehowbe in essenceall the things knows,just as the it indramatist engendering play mustbe his dramatispersonae. hisThe giftand greatness bothphilosopher poet is thisimpres- of andsionability-one might even say, this actual lack of any inde-pendentunassimilablesubstance.Aristotlethen interpreted a asvirtuethatwhich struckPlato as the dissipationand prostitutionof power. Aristotle pressesback thehighgiftsof boththeseclasses of mento a source in theirbodilymake-up:themelancholic temperament.The predominanceof the nimble, winelike black bile in theirsystemsmakes themexcitable,moody,restlessin sleep, and-witha tendency towardmentalderangement. who has black bile in Heproper proportionsin his body is the genius; in extremepro-portionsis mad. AristotlementionsEmpedocles,Plato, and Soc-rates, among philosophers,as atrabilious, and "most of thepoets".50 Althoughwithrespectto the statusof imitative artistsAristotleseems in general to be takingthe opposite position from Plato,in most cases Aristotlesthesis is an elaborationof an aspect ofPlatonism. In the very Phadrus, in which Plato classes poetsand imitators so humiliating way,he may be said to have an- in aticipatedAristotlesgrouping theseartistswithphilosophers of as 4 De. Part. An. 687. 4 De An. 429a. Prob. 953a.
  17. 17. No. 6.] AESTHETIC IMITATION IN ARISTOTLE 573melancholics. For the doctrineof divine madness,which "entersintoa delicateand virginsoul, and thereinspiringfrenzy,awakenslyricand all othernumbers", muchin common has withthetheoryof the melancholictemperament set forthby the physicians asson. Althoughblack bile is eroticand unbalancingin tendency, itis for Aristotlethe firethatwarms the genius of all giftedsouls.Again one part of Platonism seems to have helped Aristotletoreplyto anotherpart. KATHERINE E. GILBERT DUKE UNIVERSITY