The Aristotelian Psychology of Tragic Mimesis

In: Phronesis
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  • 1 Department of Classical Studies, Duke UniversityBox 90103, Durham NC 27708USA
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This paper argues that the psychology of mimesis presupposed by Poetics 4 is immediately relevant to Aristotle’s psychology of tragic mimesis. µανθάνειν καὶ συλλογίζεσθαι at 1448b16 involve a cognitive mode characteristic of Aristotelian induction that joins particulars with universals through spontaneous, non-discursive noetic predication. Aristotle’s view of the cognition of tragic mimesis can be subsumed under the practice of theōria: the inductive re‑cognition of ethical universals is a ‘theoric’ exercise of philosophical reflection on the particulars of the tragic action, an associative intellection that actualizes the subject’s knowledge by joining ethical universals with the particular mimetic praxeis they regard.

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