POIESIS AND EXEMPLARS
Aristotle on Models and Excellence
Michelangelo,
David
Donatello,
Magdalene

Dürer,
Melancholia

Michelangelo,
Pieta
CAUSALITY
Cause means (1) that from which, as immanent material, a thing comes into being,
e.g. the bronze is the cause of...
CAUSALITY

The Forms

forms

ordinary
things

illusions

Plato’s Simile of the Line
CAUSALITY
CAUSALITY

Material

Formal

Efficient

Aristotle’s Four Causes

Final
POIESIS
Material

Formal

artist

Art

“It follows that an art is the same thing as a rational quality, concerned
with mak...
POIESIS
It is clear, then, from what we have said
that the poet must be a "maker" not of
verses but of stories, since he i...
IMITATION
Speaking generally, poetry seems
to owe its origin to two particular
causes, both natural. From
childhood men ha...
IMITATION
…if a man smeared a canvas with
the loveliest colors at random, it
would not give as much pleasure
as an outline...
IMITATION
And then there is the enjoyment people
always get from representations. What
happens in actual experience proves...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Gener
al

Specifi
c

Accidental
CATEGORIES
Properties
Gener
al

Specifi
c

Substantial
Thing

Biota
Animal
Vertebrate
Mammal
Primate
Homonidae
Homo
Sapien...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Gener
al

Specifi
c

Substantial
Thing

Biota
Animal
Vertebrate
Mammal
Primate
Homonidae
Homo
Sapien...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Gener
al

Accidental

Human

Being Male

Being a
Warrior

Specifi
c

Being a Poet
Being ...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Gen
eral

Human
Being a
Warrior

Spec
ific

Being a
Poet
Being a
Ruler
Being
David

Acci...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Thing

Gener
al

Specifi
Depictio
nc
portraya
l

{
{

Biota
Animal
Vertebrate
Mammal
Pri...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Gen
eral

Human
Being a
Warrior

Depictio
Spec {
n
ific
portraya
{
l

Being a
Poet
Being...
CATEGORIES
Properties
Substantial
Gen
eral

Human
Being a
Warrior

Depictio
Spec {
n
ific
portraya
{
l

Being a
Poet
Being...
CATEGORIES
Properties

Specifi
c

Wearing
clothes

en
t

Biota
Animal
Vertebrate
Mammal
Primate
Homonidae
Homo
Sapiens
Sap...
POIESIS
Accident
Substance
Accident
POIESIS

History
Exemplar
History

…poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because
poetry tends to ...
POIESIS: ACTION
Climax
Rising Action

Reversal

Falling Action

Tragedy is, then, a representation of an action that is he...
Michelangelo,
Parthenon Metope, Centaurs and
Lapiths
Parthenon Metope, Centaurs and
Lapiths
POIESIS: CHARACTERS
The objects the imitator represents are
actions, with agents who are necessarily
either good men or ba...
POIESIS: CHARACTERS

In respect of Character there are
four things to be aimed at. First,
and most important, it must be
g...
Donatello, Habakuk

Lechares, Apollo Belvedere
POIESIS: CHARACTERS

The second thing to aim at is
propriety. There is a type of manly
valor … unscrupulous cleverness is
...
POIESIS: CHARACTERS

The second thing to aim at is
propriety. There is a type of manly
valor … unscrupulous cleverness is
...
Ghiberti, Sacrificeof
Isaac

Brunelleschi, Sacrificeof
Isaac
POIESIS: CHARACTERS
Thirdly, character must be true to
life: for this is a distinct thing from
goodness and propriety, as ...
POIESIS:
CHARACTERS
Character is that which reveals
choice, shows what sort of thing a
man chooses or avoids in
circumstan...
POIESIS: CHARACTERS
Climax
Rising Action

Reversal/Discovery

Falling Action

Clearly the story must be constructed as in ...
Michelangelo,

Donatello,
Donatello,
David
Michelangelo,
David
POIESIS: SIX PARTS OF TRAGEDY
Necessarily then every tragedy has six constituent parts, and on these
its quality depends. ...
POIESIS: PLOT
Climax
Rising Action

Reversal/Discovery

Falling Action

By "plot" I mean here the arrangement of the incid...
MODERN
TIMES

POIESIS: PLOT
the action (that which was done) is represented in the play by the Fable or Plot.
—Aristotle, ...
GLEN GARRY, GLEN
ROSS

POIESIS: CHARACTER

Character: that which determines the quality of the agents…Character gives us q...
MY COUSIN
VINNY

POIESIS: DICTION
Diction: the composition of the verses
—Aristotle, Poetics
THANKYOU FOR
SMOKING

POIESIS: THOUGHT
appears wherever in the dialogue they put forward an argument or deliver an opinion...
IRON
MAN

POIESIS: SPECTACLE
the stage-appearance of the actors
—Aristotle, Poetics
Charlie Chaplin/Chick Corea:
Smile

POIESIS: MELODY
‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanation.
—A...
Los Straightjackets: My Heart Will Go
On

POIESIS: MELODY
‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanati...
Moldy Peaches: Anyone Else But
You

POIESIS: MELODY
‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanation.
—A...
BEAUTY
Moreover, in everything that is beautiful, whether it
be a living creature or any organism composed of
parts, these...
Botticelli, Venus

Boticelli,
Venus
Poseidon (or Zeus)
POIESIS
History: Bad Guy Wins
Art: Good Guy Wins
History: Good Guy
Loses
VIRTUES
Thus a master of any art avoids excess and defect, but seeks the intermediate
and chooses this—the intermediate no...
VIRTUES
Vice

Virtue

Vice

Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
VIRTUES
Foolhardy

Courage

Cowardice

The Virtue of Courage
VIRTUES
Self-Indulgence

Temperance

insensibility

Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
VIRTUES
Extravagance

Generosity

Stinginess

Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
VIRTUES
Generic Virtues
Moral Exemplar/Depiction
Accidental Actualities
Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
CATHARSIS
since tragedy represents not only a complete action but also
incidents that cause fear and pity, and this happen...
CATHARSIS

A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also,
as having magnitude, complete in itsel...
Michelangelo,
Münch, Scream
Laocoön
Picasso,
Guernica
HAMLET
GENERAL AND SPECIAL VIRTUES
Gullible

Forgiving

Resentment

A General Virtue
GENERAL AND SPECIAL VIRTUES
Gullible

Clemency

Resentment

A Specific Virtue
VIRTUES OF THE ARTIST
Mean

Magnificence

over the top

A Virtue Specific to Patrons and Artists
VIRTUES OF THE ARTIST
There are also other dispositions in
relation to money, namely, the mode
of observing the mean calle...
Taj Mahal
Statue of Liberty
Eiffel Tower
Forbidden City
Guggenheim Bilbao
Sidney Opera House
ML King Jr Memorial Waterfall
Houston Conwill, Estella Majoza and Joseph De Pace, Photo by Ariana McNulty
MAGNIFICENCE
The defect corresponding to the magnificent disposition is called
Paltriness, and the excess Vulgarity, Want ...
460.03 Aristotle Poiesis, Exemplars, Catharsis
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460.03 Aristotle Poiesis, Exemplars, Catharsis

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Slides on Aristotle's concepts of poiesis, exemplars, catharsis, magnificence, causality, categories, and virtues.

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460.03 Aristotle Poiesis, Exemplars, Catharsis

  1. 1. POIESIS AND EXEMPLARS Aristotle on Models and Excellence
  2. 2. Michelangelo, David
  3. 3. Donatello, Magdalene Dürer, Melancholia Michelangelo, Pieta
  4. 4. CAUSALITY Cause means (1) that from which, as immanent material, a thing comes into being, e.g. the bronze is the cause of the statue and the silver of the saucer, and so are the classes which include these. (2) The form or pattern, i.e. the definition of the essence, and the classes which include this (e.g. the ratio 2:1 and number in general are causes of the octave), and the parts included in the definition. (3) That from which the change or the resting from change first begins; e.g. the adviser is a cause of the action, and the father a cause of the child, and in general the maker a cause of the thing made and the change-producing of the changing. (4) The end, i.e. that for the sake of which a thing is; e.g. health is the cause of walking. For 'Why does one walk?' we say; 'that one may be healthy'; and in speaking thus we think we have given the cause. —Aristotle, Metaphysics
  5. 5. CAUSALITY The Forms forms ordinary things illusions Plato’s Simile of the Line
  6. 6. CAUSALITY
  7. 7. CAUSALITY Material Formal Efficient Aristotle’s Four Causes Final
  8. 8. POIESIS Material Formal artist Art “It follows that an art is the same thing as a rational quality, concerned with making, that reasons truly. All Art deals with bringing some thing into existence; and to pursue an art means to study how to bring into existence a thing which may either exist or not, and the efficient cause of which lies in the maker and not in the thing made….” —Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
  9. 9. POIESIS It is clear, then, from what we have said that the poet must be a "maker" not of verses but of stories, since he is a poet in virtue of his "representation," and what he represents is action. Even supposing he represents what has actually happened, he is none the less a poet, for there is nothing to prevent some actual occurrences being the sort of thing that would probably or inevitably happen, and it is in virtue of that that he is their “maker." —Aristotle, Poetics Parthenon Metope, Centaurs and Lapiths
  10. 10. IMITATION Speaking generally, poetry seems to owe its origin to two particular causes, both natural. From childhood men have an instinct for representation, and in this respect, differs from the other animals that he is far more imitative and learns his first lessons by representing things. —Aristotle, Poetics Polykleitos, Doryphorus
  11. 11. IMITATION …if a man smeared a canvas with the loveliest colors at random, it would not give as much pleasure as an outline in black and white.1 And it is mainly because a play is a representation of action that it also for that reason represents people. —Aristotle, Poetics Polygnous, Iliupersis
  12. 12. IMITATION And then there is the enjoyment people always get from representations. What happens in actual experience proves this, for we enjoy looking at accurate likenesses of things which are themselves painful to see, obscene beasts, for instance, and corpses. The reason is this: Learning things gives great pleasure not only to philosophers but also in the same way to all other men —Aristotle, Poetics Laocoön
  13. 13. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Gener al Specifi c Accidental
  14. 14. CATEGORIES Properties Gener al Specifi c Substantial Thing Biota Animal Vertebrate Mammal Primate Homonidae Homo Sapiens Sapiens Accidental
  15. 15. CATEGORIES Properties Gener al Specifi c Substantial Thing Biota Animal Vertebrate Mammal Primate Homonidae Homo Sapiens Essence Sapiens Accidental Wearing clothes Wearing a dress
  16. 16. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Gener al Accidental Human Being Male Being a Warrior Specifi c Being a Poet Being a Ruler Being David Having used a sling Having slain Goliath
  17. 17. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Gen eral Human Being a Warrior Spec ific Being a Poet Being a Ruler Being David Accidental Being Male Having used a sling Having slain Goliath …poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts. By a "general truth" I mean the sort of thing that a certain type of man will do or say either probably or necessarily. —Aristotle, Poetics
  18. 18. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Thing Gener al Specifi Depictio nc portraya l { { Biota Animal Vertebrate Mammal Primate Homonidae Homo Sapiens being Sapiens Diotima Accidental Wearing clothes Wearing a dress
  19. 19. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Gen eral Human Being a Warrior Depictio Spec { n ific portraya { l Being a Poet Being a Ruler Being David being David Accidental Being Male Having used a sling Having slain Goliath Depiction is a representation of an exemplary specimen (not any particular individual) that fuses essential traits, including functions, from various individuals. Portrayal, a representation of a specific individual by virtue of mimicking unique (or essential) properties.
  20. 20. CATEGORIES Properties Substantial Gen eral Human Being a Warrior Depictio Spec { n ific portraya { l Being a Poet Being a Ruler Being David being David Accidental Being Male Having used a sling Having slain Goliath What we have said already makes it further clear that a poet's object is not to tell what actually happened but what could and would happen either probably or inevitably. The difference between a historian and a poet is not that one writes in prose and the other in verse—indeed the writings of Herodotus could be put into verse and yet would still be a kind of history, whether written in metre or not. The real difference is this, that one tells what happened and the other what might happen. —Aristotle Poetics
  21. 21. CATEGORIES Properties Specifi c Wearing clothes en t Biota Animal Vertebrate Mammal Primate Homonidae Homo Sapiens Sapiens Accidental Ac cid Substance Gener al Substantial Thing Wearing a dress
  22. 22. POIESIS Accident Substance Accident
  23. 23. POIESIS History Exemplar History …poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts. By a "general truth" I mean the sort of thing that a certain type of man will do or say either probably or necessarily. —Aristotle, Poetics
  24. 24. POIESIS: ACTION Climax Rising Action Reversal Falling Action Tragedy is, then, a representation of an action that is heroic and complete and of a certain magnitude—by means of language enriched with all kinds of ornament, each used separately in the different parts of the play: it represents men in action and does not use narrative, and through pity and fear it effects relief to these and similar emotions. —Aristotle, Poetics
  25. 25. Michelangelo,
  26. 26. Parthenon Metope, Centaurs and Lapiths
  27. 27. Parthenon Metope, Centaurs and Lapiths
  28. 28. POIESIS: CHARACTERS The objects the imitator represents are actions, with agents who are necessarily either good men or bad—the diversities of human character being nearly always derivative from this primary distinction, since the line between virtue and vice is one dividing the whole of mankind. It follows, therefore, that the agents represented must be either above our own level of goodness, or beneath it, or just such as we are…. —Aristotle, Poetics Massacchio, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
  29. 29. POIESIS: CHARACTERS In respect of Character there are four things to be aimed at. First, and most important, it must be good. Now any speech or action that manifests moral purpose of any kind will be expressive of character: the character will be good if the purpose is good. Donatello, Penitent Magdalene
  30. 30. Donatello, Habakuk Lechares, Apollo Belvedere
  31. 31. POIESIS: CHARACTERS The second thing to aim at is propriety. There is a type of manly valor … unscrupulous cleverness is inappropriate. Brunelleschi, Sacrificeof Isaac
  32. 32. POIESIS: CHARACTERS The second thing to aim at is propriety. There is a type of manly valor … unscrupulous cleverness is inappropriate. Ghiberti, Sacrificeof Isaac
  33. 33. Ghiberti, Sacrificeof Isaac Brunelleschi, Sacrificeof Isaac
  34. 34. POIESIS: CHARACTERS Thirdly, character must be true to life: for this is a distinct thing from goodness and propriety, as here described. The fourth point is consistency: for though the subject of the imitation, who suggested the type, be inconsistent, still he must be consistently inconsistent. Drunken Satyr or Barberini Faun
  35. 35. POIESIS: CHARACTERS Character is that which reveals choice, shows what sort of thing a man chooses or avoids in circumstances where the choice is not obvious, so those speeches convey no character in which there is nothing whatever which the speaker chooses or avoids. –Aristotle, Poetics
  36. 36. POIESIS: CHARACTERS Climax Rising Action Reversal/Discovery Falling Action Clearly the story must be constructed as in tragedy, dramatically, round a single piece of action, whole and complete in itself, with a beginning, middle and end, so that like a single living organism it may produce its own peculiar form of pleasure. —Aristotle, Poetics
  37. 37. Michelangelo, Donatello,
  38. 38. Donatello, David
  39. 39. Michelangelo, David
  40. 40. POIESIS: SIX PARTS OF TRAGEDY Necessarily then every tragedy has six constituent parts, and on these its quality depends. These are plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song The most important of these is the arrangement of the incidents, for tragedy is not a representation of men but of a piece of action, of life, of happiness and unhappiness, which come under the head of action, and the end aimed at is the representation not of qualities of character but of some action; and while character makes men what they are, it's their actions and experiences that make them happy or the opposite. —Aristotle, Poetics
  41. 41. POIESIS: PLOT Climax Rising Action Reversal/Discovery Falling Action By "plot" I mean here the arrangement of the incidents: “character”…. All human happiness or misery takes the form of action; the end for which we live is a certain kind of activity, not a quality. —Aristotle, Poetics
  42. 42. MODERN TIMES POIESIS: PLOT the action (that which was done) is represented in the play by the Fable or Plot. —Aristotle, Poetics
  43. 43. GLEN GARRY, GLEN ROSS POIESIS: CHARACTER Character: that which determines the quality of the agents…Character gives us qualities, but it is in our actions—what we do—that we are happy or the reverse…Character in a play is that which reveals the moral purpose of the agents,
  44. 44. MY COUSIN VINNY POIESIS: DICTION Diction: the composition of the verses —Aristotle, Poetics
  45. 45. THANKYOU FOR SMOKING POIESIS: THOUGHT appears wherever in the dialogue they put forward an argument or deliver an opinion. —Aristotle, Poetics
  46. 46. IRON MAN POIESIS: SPECTACLE the stage-appearance of the actors —Aristotle, Poetics
  47. 47. Charlie Chaplin/Chick Corea: Smile POIESIS: MELODY ‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanation. —Aristotle, Poetics
  48. 48. Los Straightjackets: My Heart Will Go On POIESIS: MELODY ‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanation. —Aristotle, Poetics
  49. 49. Moldy Peaches: Anyone Else But You POIESIS: MELODY ‘Melody’, what is too completely understood to require explanation. —Aristotle, Poetics
  50. 50. BEAUTY Moreover, in everything that is beautiful, whether it be a living creature or any organism composed of parts, these parts must not only be orderly arranged but must also have a certain magnitude of their own; for beauty consists in magnitude and ordered arrangement. From which it follows that neither would a very small creature be beautiful— for our view of it is almost instantaneous and therefore confused—nor a very large one, since being unable to view it all at once, we lose the effect of a single whole; for instance, suppose a creature a thousand miles long. As then creatures and other organic structures must have a certain magnitude and yet be easily taken in by the eye, so too with plots: they must have length but must be easily taken in by the memory. —Aristotle, Poetics Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror
  51. 51. Botticelli, Venus Boticelli, Venus
  52. 52. Poseidon (or Zeus)
  53. 53. POIESIS History: Bad Guy Wins Art: Good Guy Wins History: Good Guy Loses
  54. 54. VIRTUES Thus a master of any art avoids excess and defect, but seeks the intermediate and chooses this—the intermediate not in the object but relatively to us. If it is thus, then, that every art does its work well—by looking to the intermediate and judging its works by this standard (so that we often say of good works of art that it is not possible either to take away or to add anything, implying that excess and defect destroy the goodness of works of art, while the mean preserves it; and good artists, as we say, look to this in their work), and if, further, virtue is more exact and better than any art, as nature also is, then virtue must have the quality of aiming at the intermediate. I mean moral virtue; for it is this that is concerned with passions and actions, and in these there is excess, defect, and the intermediate.
  55. 55. VIRTUES Vice Virtue Vice Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
  56. 56. VIRTUES Foolhardy Courage Cowardice The Virtue of Courage
  57. 57. VIRTUES Self-Indulgence Temperance insensibility Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
  58. 58. VIRTUES Extravagance Generosity Stinginess Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
  59. 59. VIRTUES Generic Virtues Moral Exemplar/Depiction Accidental Actualities Aristotle’s Virtue Theory
  60. 60. CATHARSIS since tragedy represents not only a complete action but also incidents that cause fear and pity, and this happens most of all when the incidents are unexpected and yet one is a consequence of the other. For in that way the incidents will cause more amazement than if they happened mechanically and accidentally, since the most amazing accidental occurrences are those which seem to have been providential, for instance when the statue of Mitys at Argos killed the man who caused Mitys's death by falling on him at a festival. Such events do not seem to be mere accidents. So such plots as these must necessarily be the best. —Aristotle, Poetics
  61. 61. CATHARSIS A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions. —Aristotle, Poetics
  62. 62. Michelangelo,
  63. 63. Münch, Scream
  64. 64. Laocoön
  65. 65. Picasso, Guernica
  66. 66. HAMLET
  67. 67. GENERAL AND SPECIAL VIRTUES Gullible Forgiving Resentment A General Virtue
  68. 68. GENERAL AND SPECIAL VIRTUES Gullible Clemency Resentment A Specific Virtue
  69. 69. VIRTUES OF THE ARTIST Mean Magnificence over the top A Virtue Specific to Patrons and Artists
  70. 70. VIRTUES OF THE ARTIST There are also other dispositions in relation to money, namely, the mode of observing the mean called Magnificence ... the excess called Tastelessness or Vulgarity, and the defect called Paltriness.... In respect of honor and dishonor, the observance of the mean is Greatness of Soul, the excess a sort of Vanity, as it may be called, and the deficiency, Smallness of Soul. A Virtue Specific to Patrons and Artists
  71. 71. Taj Mahal
  72. 72. Statue of Liberty
  73. 73. Eiffel Tower
  74. 74. Forbidden City
  75. 75. Guggenheim Bilbao
  76. 76. Sidney Opera House
  77. 77. ML King Jr Memorial Waterfall Houston Conwill, Estella Majoza and Joseph De Pace, Photo by Ariana McNulty
  78. 78. MAGNIFICENCE The defect corresponding to the magnificent disposition is called Paltriness, and the excess Vulgarity, Want of Taste or the like. The latter vices do not exceed by spending too great an amount on proper objects, but by making a great display on the wrong occasions and in the wrong way. We will however speak of them later The magnificent man is an artist in expenditure: he can discern what is suitable, and spend great sums with good taste. –Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics IV.4-5
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