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image of Méthexis

The essay provides a critical assessment of the objections raised, especially by P. Destrée, against the cognitivistic interpretation of the pleasure of tragedy. It is pointed out that in the Poetics, chapter 4, it is unsound to distinguish between the pleasure of artistic imitation and the child’s pleasure for learning through imitation or the pleasure of the philosopher engaged in theoria. Moreover, the reference to children and philosophers proves that it is uncorrect to distinguish in the verb manthanein between the meaning “to understand” and “to learn” and to say that the latter does not fit the example of painting. Consequently, this example cannot mean that contemplating the picture has as its only out-come a trivial recognition of the identity of the real object and the painted subject-matter. Actually, the tragedy’s audience sees in the plot a case which is exemplary (because it is universal) for particular actions and states of affair already known; and of these situations the audience understands and learns the causes with pleasure. Also the position of chapter 4 in the opening section of the book (chapters 1-5), which is entirely devoted to a general treatment of mimesis, confirms that all is said there of the pleasure must be a general premise for the treatment of all particular kind of pleasure recorded in the book: consequently, for the treatment of tragic pleasure in chapter 14 as well.


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