In Katerina Ierodiakonou (ed.), Colour Psychology in the Graeco-Roman World. 1253 Vandœuvres, Switzerland: pp. 43-80 (2020)

Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi
University College London
Aristotle’s works on natural science show that he was aware of the affective powers of colour. At De an. 421a13, for example, he writes that hard-eyed animals can only discriminate between frightening and non-frightening colours. In the Nicomachean Ethics, furthermore, colours are the source of pleasures and delight. These pleasures, unlike the pleasures of touch and taste, neither corrupt us nor make us wiser. Aristotle’s views on the affective powers of colours raise a question about the limits he seems to place on the affective powers of pictures at De an. 427b15-24, where he implies that pictures do not affect us immediately. In this paper, I examine the contrast between the affective powers of colour and the affective powers of pictures. I argue that colours can give rise to pleasure and pain in themselves and generate emotions incidentally. Similarly, pictures can please us or affect us in themselves and incidentally. In light of this account, I suggest that, on a plausible reading of De an. 427b15-24, the affective powers of pictures as mimetic objects are not immediate because they require an intervening cause in order to be effective. The representations of pictures and statues affect us either with the mediation of deception or with the mediation of interpretation.
Keywords Aristotle  pictures  colours  perception  phantasia
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The Fragility of Goodness.Martha Nussbaum - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (7):376-383.
The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems.Stephen Halliwell - 2002 - Princeton, USA: Princeton University Press.

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