Review of Metaphysics 65 (2):321-349 (2011)

Authors
Silvia Carli
Skidmore College
Abstract
This paper offers an interpretation and a defense of Aristotle’s view of history. According to a common reading of the Poetics, the philosopher intends to establish a dichotomy between history and poetry. On this view, the former speaks only of particulars because it relates events that are accidentally related to one another, whereas the latter speaks of universals because it organizes events according to causal relations of probability and necessity. A careful reading of the relevant passages of the Poetics and the analysis of his conception of historia as a preliminary inquiry that leads to the philosophical investigation of causes and principles, however, show that Aristotle did not confine history to the realm of particulars. Rather, he acknowledged that it has some connection with universality, and to that extent, that it partakes in the philosophical nature of poetry. At the same time he provided valid indications to the effect that, despite their affinity, historia and poiêtikê differ in kind, because they are defined by different functions (erga)
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph2011652378
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