Does Aristotle have a Theory of Art?

Philosophia 39 (2) (2011)

Some philosophers claim that Aristotle never had a theory of art—the Poetics deals essentially with tragic and epic dramas only. It contains a full definition of only one art form, i.e., tragedy. Even Aristotle’s discussion on artistic evaluation focuses chiefly on tragedy, such as how a tragic plot should be constructed, how characters in tragedy should be presented, etc. The other forms of art were treated simply as different forms of mimesis, with skeletal discussion of them at best. Nevertheless, it can be argued that Aristotle offers enough guidelines and information to build a complete theory of art. In order to do this, one has to focus on his definition of tragedy, especially the six essential elements of tragic drama. By closely examining the roles these elements perform in tragedy, one can extend their characteristics into the other art forms, and construct a more complete theory of art from Aristotle’s Poetics. This paper has attempted to do this task
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