Aristotle, Hegel and Mimesis

Yates, Joyce Alana (1989) Aristotle, Hegel and Mimesis. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The topic of this thesis is the concept of artistic mimesis (imitation) as treated by Aristotle and Hegel. Aristotle's Poetics has been viewed as the paradigmatic statement of the notion of mimesis as the basis of art, and particularly, that of tragedy. In contrast, the entire inclination of the Hegelian aesthetic is held to be such as to place it far from any sympathy with the mimetic school. Hegel's idealism, with its credo that the material realm is only intelligible as an embodiment of what is spiritual, and hence, that art must be a second creator of the world in order that mind can be consciously present in art, is bound to reject any notion of mimesis which requires an adherence to a servile mechanical and static reproduction of nature. It is my intention to defend the Aristotelian theory of mimesis from the Hegelian charge that due to its noncreative and purely naturalistic orientation, imitation stands as an inadequate basis for the production of true art. -- That Hegel leans toward an almost undeviating adherence to the insular view that mimesis is little more than illusionistic mimicry, and as such, sure anathema to his view of the essential nature of art, can be readily seen. Critical passages in the Philosophy of Mind (PM) and the Berlin Aesthetics: Lectures On Fine Art (LFA), are indicative of a definite dismissal of both inferior and positive aspects of the mimetic theory of representation. I intend to examine the validity of Hegel's reduction of mimesis to that which is unacceptable to the domain of worthy art, and to attempt to demonstrate how and why characteristics proper to Aristotelian mimetic theory need not be, one and all, rejected by Hegel. -- In Chapter One, I focus on the Aristotelian statement of imitation in the Poetics, and I concentrate on the idea of the tragedian as an inventive maker of plots, one who is concerned with fostering the recognition of universals. Chapter Two presents an examination of the notion of imitation as the basis of literary art. Here I present the reader with some idea of the divergent views and connotations that have evolved in imitation theory. In Chapter Three, I examine Hegel's philosophy of geist, the role consigned to nature in contrast to the self-conscious, and the evolution of art as insight into the Absolute. A critique of Hegel's textual treatment of imitation is the primary subject of my fourth chapter. -- In both Chapters Four and Five, I point to the narrow mindedness of the view of mimesis as copy or mimicry. Mimesis can be artistic activity that is creative and synthetic. Finally, the fifth chapter considers the possibility of any common ground between the Aristotelian and Hegelian ideas of mimesis and I argue that Hegel errs in his analysis and that he is blind to various elements and aesthetic characteristics of which imitation is composed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5737
Item ID: 5737
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 159-162.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Aristotle. Poetics; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 1770-1831; Mimesis in literature

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