Aristotle as a Critic
The word critic comes from Greek word ???kritikos??? which means “able to discern”, which is a Greek derivation from the word ???krites??? meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation.
A critic is anyone who expresses a value judgment. Informally, criticism is a common aspect of all human expression and need not necessarily imply skilled or accurate expressions of judgment. Critical judgments, good or bad, may be positive (in praise of an object of attention), negative (in dispraise), or balanced (weighing a combination of factors both for and against). Since all criticism must be regarded as having a purpose, a critic may also be definable by his or her specific motivation. At its simplest, and for whatever reason, a critic may have either constructive or destructive intent.
The critic is considered to be the dialectic of genius. This insight was formulated early by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing as “not every critic is a genius, but every genius is born a critic… genius has the proof of all rules within itself.” Kant scholar Jane Kneller has read this to indicate that, as opposed to the externally oriented and culturally dependent critic, “genius demonstrates its autonomy not by ignoring all rules, but by deriving the rules from itself”.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Platos teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotles writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.
Aristotle said, “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
Aristotle was the student a disciple of Plato but he disregarded some of his intentions and criticized them. As Plato attacked on poetry and said it is mother of lies, but Aristotle criticized his remarks and spoke in defense of poetry. Plato used the word ???imitating??? for poetry, he did so in derogatory sense. Aristotle, too considered poetry as imitation, but interpreted it as a ???creative??? process; Plato considered imitation as a mere mimicry, Aristotle widens its scope and insists that it can never be mere mimicry but it has to possess the basic essence of truth. Thus poet is greater than a philosopher or historian, for he creates something new by imitating reality. And, within reality, there are also emotions. Plato opined that poetry is an imitation or copy of the world of appearances, and thus it removes us away from reality. In this manner and illusion of things is created by an artist. But Aristotle interpreted imitation differently. According to him art imitates the universal realities of the ideal. A work of art is an idealized representation of human life i.e. of character, emotion, action. While Plato compared poetry with painting. Aristotle compares it to music. It is thus that Aristotle successfully refutes Plato??™s charge of poetry imitating mere externalities; for like music, poetry captures the soul or essence of experience, internal as well as external. Plato considered poetry to be a copy of nature as it is, Aristotle gives it the scope of being concerned with ???what ought to be??? or ???what can be???. Thus poetry idealizes the reality. So Aristotle criticizes completely the thinking of Plato about the poetry and describes it as he thinks it.
Aristotelian criticism is usually applied to plays, and even then it is often used in Greek tragedies. His theories can be found in Poetics
Poetics gives us the basic notions of:
* The characteristics of a tragic hero
* The formative elements of? drama
* The necessary unity of plot
* The basic concept of mimesis, or imitation, the idea that works of literature are imitations of actions, the difference among them result from means, objects, and manner
What makes a hero tragic
* A tragic hero is the noble figure in the plot
* He has a tragic flaw, usually hubris or tragic pride
* Example, Oedipus from the Oedipus Cycle.? Oedipus, because of his pride, determined to find who killed the previous king, revealing that it was him.? He killed his father and married his mother, proving that he could not escape his destiny.
There is a formidable list of critics who have supplied thoughtful arguments against Aristotles way of thinking: Hobbes, Rousseau, the Mills (Harriet Taylor and John Stuart), and Bertrand Russell are some of the stars of philosophy who, over the centuries, offered refutations to the Ancients ideas. Today, some modern conservatives argue he is “naive,” “impractical ???and??? anti-wealth creation” and, on the left, postmodernists claim he is “elitist” and “morally prescriptive.” One thoughtful recent critic, David Denby, ends up rejecting the near entirety of Aristotles philosophy because
???I could not dismiss politically correct objections; nor would I want to. No matter how you look at it??“and no matter what qualifying historical context you place it in??“Aristotle made a disastrous mistake.???
Indeed, Aristotles “disastrous mistake” of political incorrectness has led an entire generation of scholars to question his fitness to stand as a moral guide.
by: Amjad Ameer Khan