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Aristotle on Poetics [Paperback]

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Item Number 438281  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   105
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.82" Height: 0.41"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 15, 2002
Publisher   St. Augustine's Press
ISBN  1587310260  
EAN  9781587310263  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Aristotle's much-translated On Poetics is the earliest and arguably the best treatment that we possess of tragedy as a literary form. The late Seth Benardete and Michael Davis have translated it anew with a view to rendering Aristotle's text into English as precisely as possible. A literal translation has long been needed, for in order to excavate the argument of On Poetics one has to attend not simply to what is said on the surface but also to the various puzzles, questions, and peculiarities that emerge only on the level of how Aristotle says what he says and thereby leads one to revise and deepen one's initial understanding of the intent of the argument. As On Poetics is about how tragedy ought to be composed, it should not be surprising that it turns out to be a rather artful piece of literature in its own right.

Benardete and Davis supplement their edition of On Poetics with extensive notes and appendices. They explain nuances of the original that elude translation, and they provide translations of passages found elsewhere in Aristotle's works as well as in those of other ancient authors that prove useful in thinking through the argument of On Poetics both in terms of its treatment of tragedy and in terms of its broader concerns. By following the connections Aristotle plots between On Poetics and his other works, readers will be in a position to appreciate the centrality of this work for his entire thought.

In an introduction that sketches the overall interpretation of On Poetics presented in hisThe Poetry of Philosophy (St. Augustine's Press, 1999; see p. 33 of this catalogue), Davis argues that, while On Poetics is certainly about tragedy, it has a further concern extending beyond poetry to the very structure of the human soul in its relation to what is, and that Aristotle reveals in the form of his argument the true character of human action.

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More About Aristotle, Michael Davis, Seth Benardete, Seth Benardete & Michael Davis

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Seth Benardete is a professor of classics at New York University. His many books include The Argument of the Action, published by the Universoty of Chicago Press.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Tragedy Teaches Us Something About Life  May 9, 2008
I read these works for a graduate seminar on Aristotle.
Poetry appeals to human passions and emotions. Powerful beautiful language and metaphor really appeal to emotion. This idea really disturbed Plato, who takes on Homer in the Republic. Plato thought that early Greek poetry portrays a dark world; humans are checked by negative limits like death. Tragedy has in it a character of high status brought down through no fault of his own. Plato says this is unjust. Republic is about ethical life and justice. It starts with the premises that might makes right and then moves onto the idea much like modern religions that justice comes in the afterlife. Plato hates the idea that in tragedy bad things can happen to good people. He wanted to ban tragedy because he found it demoralizing.

Aristotle's Poetics is a defense against Plato's appeal to ban tragedy. Tragedy was very popular in Greek world so Aristotle asks can it be wrong to ban it? Yes, it is wrong thus he decides to study it. Plato says Poetry is not a technç because the poets are divinely inspired. Aristotle disagrees Poetics is a handbook for playwrights. Mimçsis= "representation or imitation." Plato uses it in speaking of painting, thus art is imitation. Another meaning is to mimic, like actors mimicking another person. Plato and Aristotle use it to mean psychological identification like how we get absorbed in a movie as if the action were real, eliciting emotions from us. We suspend reality for a while. Aristotle says this is natural in humans; we do this as children, we mimic. If imitation is important for humans then tragic poetry is worthwhile for Aristotle to study.

Definition of tragedy- "Through pity and fear it achieves purification from such feelings. This is a famous controversial line. Katharsis= "pity and fear" thus the purpose of tragedy is to purge katharsis. Katharsis can also mean purification or clean. There is a debate if it means clarification, through which we can come to understand katharsis. Aristotle thinks tragedy teaches us something about life. Tragedy is an elaboration on Aristotle's idea that good or virtuous people sometimes get unlucky and in the end, they get screwed. Tragedy shows this so we can learn to get by when life screws us. The whole point of tragedy is action over character. Action is the full story of the poem like the Iliad. Character is only part of the action.
Aristotle distinguishes between poetry and history. Poetry is concerned with universals, history is concerned with particulars.

I recommend Aristotle's works to anyone interested in obtaining a classical education, and those interested in philosophy. Aristotle is one of the most important philosophers and the standard that all others must be judged by.

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