ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

VI. -- Poetics.

57. Art and the Beautiful. -- The science of poetics has for its object the production of external works, and especially of works of art. Aristotle devoted his attention to the study of the beautiful, of the fine arts, especially the art of poetry. Like Plato he seeks for the essence of the beautiful in the objective elements of order: "beauty consists in the union of order with magnitude". Ontologically it is identical with what is good, particularly with what is morally good. Art is an imitation -- not of a shadow as Plato held -- but of the reality, of the internal essences of things. Aristotle lays stress on the moral significance of art, and by taking account of this view we may understand better his obscure theory of the katharsis in his definition of tragedy. By inspiring terror and pity in the theatre, the drama stifles in the spectator's soul the unruly passions whose portrayal on the stage calls forth those sentiments: judged by this standard, the drama is an instrument of moral purification.

Aristotle's Esthetics do not differ from Plato's in their fundamental principles; the differences between them are due to the influence of the general points of divergence between the two philosophical systems.

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