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Aristotle's work on aesthetics consists of the Poetics and Rhetoric. The Poetics is specifically concerned with drama. At some point, Aristotle's original work was divided in two, each "book" written on a separate roll of papyrus.[5] Only the first part–that which focuses on tragedy–survives. The lost second part addressed comedy.[5] Scholars speculate that the Tractatus coislinianus summarises the contents of the lost second book.

Aristotle distinguishes between the genres of "poetry" in three ways:

their means language, rhythm, and harmony, used separately or in combination

their objects agents ("good" or "bad" ...) - human characters who have emotions (and bring moral to actions they do - "good" person kills child = remorse? X "bad" person kills child = just shows his power?) or things of daily life (skull in Hamlet, cake in slapstick comedies...) who have no emotions (humans put emotions on things - girl's father is killed by sword, girl hates swords) ... • actions ("virtuous" or "vicious" ...) - agents cause and are influenced by actions

their modes of representation

Having examined briefly the field of "poetry" in general, Aristotle proceeds to his definition of tragedy: Tragedy is a representation of a serious, complete action which has magnitude, in embellished speech, with each of its elements [used] separately in the [various] parts [of the play]; [represented] by people acting and not by narration; accomplishing by means of pity and terror the catharsis of such emotions. By "embellished speech", I mean that which has rhythm and melody, i.e. song; by "with its elements separately", I mean that some [parts of it] are accomplished only by means of spoken verses, and others again by means of song (1449b25-30).[7] Tragedy consists of six parts, he explains:

plot (mythos) Key elements of the plot are reversals, recognitions and suffering. The best plot should be "complex". It should imitate actions arousing horror, fear and pity.

When a character is unfortunate by reversal(s) of fortune (peripeteia), at first he suffers (pathos) and then he can realize (anagnorisis) the cause of his misery or a way to be released from the misery. Plot should be more convoluted ("complex"), so audience can learn about what is possible in a world (Aristotle stated, that "best" tragedy is based on real events which people know are possible; note, that people also "nitpick" little "mistakes" in such story more); when plot is not "very" convoluted (audience may be young and they might not keep track of events ...), it should have at least interesting characters or thoughts (so audience is not "bored")

character (ethos) It is much better if a tragical accident happens to a hero because of a mistake he makes (hamartia) instead of things which might happen anyway. That is because the audience is more likely to be "moved" by it. A hero may have made it knowingly (in Medea) or unknowingly (Oedipus). A hero may leave a deed undone (due to timely discovery, knowledge present at the point of doing deed ...). Main character should be good - Aristotle explains that audiences do not like, for example, villains "making fortune from misery" in the end; it might happen though, and might make play interesting, nevertheless the moral is at stake here and morals are important to make people happy (people can, for example, see tragedy because they want to release their anger) • appropriate–if a character is supposed to be wise, it is unlikely he is young (supposing wisdom is gained with age) • consistent–if a person is a soldier, he is unlikely to be scared of blood (if this soldier is scared of blood it must be explained and play some role in the story to avoid confusing the audience); it is also "good" if a character doesn't change opinion "that much" if the play is not "driven" by who characters are, but by what they do (audience is confused in case of unexpected shifts in behaviour [and its reasons, morals ...] of characters) • "consistently inconsistent"–if a character always behaves foolishly it is strange if he suddenly becomes smart; in this case it would be good to explain such change, otherwise the audience may be confused ; also if character changes opinion a lot it should be clear he is a character who has this trait, not real life person, who does - this is also to avoid confusion

• • •

thought (dianoia)–spoken (usually) reasoning of human characters can explain the characters or story background ... diction (lexis) melody (melos) The Chorus too should be regarded as one of the actors; it should be an integral part of the whole, and share in the action

spectacle (opsis) For example: if play has "beautiful" costumes and "bad" acting and "bad" story, there is "something wrong" with it. Even though that "beauty" may save the play it is "not a nice thing".

He offers the earliest-surviving explanation for the origins of tragedy and comedy: Anyway, arising from an improvisatory beginning (both tragedy and comedy—tragedy from the leaders of the dithyramb, and comedy from the leaders of the phallic processions which even now continue as a custom in many of our cities) [...] (1449a10-13)[8]

[edit] Influence
Poetics was not influential in its time and was generally understood to coincide with the more famous Rhetoric. This is because in Aristotle's time, rhetoric and poetry were not as separated as they later became and were in a sense different versions of the same thing. It was not until much later that The Poetics became hugely influential. The Arabic version of Aristotle’s Poetics that influenced the Middle Ages was translated from a Greek manuscript dating from before the year 700. This manuscript was translated from Greek to Syriac and is independent of the currently-accepted 11th-century source designated Paris 1741. The Syriac language source used for the Arabic translations departed widely in vocabulary from the original Poetics and it initiated a misinterpretation of Aristotelian thought that continued through the Middle Ages.[9] There are two different Arabic interpretations of Aristotle’s Poetics in commentaries by Abu Nasr al-Farabi and Averroes (i.e., Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd). Al-Farabi’s treatise endeavors to establish poetry as a logical faculty of expression, giving it validity in the Islamic world. Averroes’ commentary attempts to harmonize his assessment of the Poetics with al-Farabi’s, but he is ultimately unable to reconcile his ascription of moral purpose to poetry with al-Farabi’s logical interpretation. Averroes' interpretation of the Poetics was accepted by the West because of its relevance to their humanistic viewpoints; occasionally the philosophers of the Middle Ages even preferred Averroes’ commentary to Aristotle's stated sense. This resulted in the survival of Aristotle’s Poetics through the Arabic literary tradition.

[edit] English translations
Wikisource has original text related to this article: The Poetics

Thomas Twining, 1789

• • • • • • • • •

Samuel Henry Butcher, 1902: full text Ingram Bywater, 1909: full text William Hamilton Fyfe, 1926: full text L. J. Potts, 1953 G. M. A. Grube, 1958 Richard Janko, 1987 Stephen Halliwell, 1987 Stephen Halliwell, 1995 (Loeb Classical Library) Malcolm Heath, 1996 (Penguin Classics)

[edit] Popular culture
The Poetics—both the extant first book and the lost second book—figure prominently in Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose.

In the case of drama, Aristotle’s words in The Poetics have set the standard, to the extent that there has in the western world not been any theory of the drama, or discussion of its structure and inner workings, without reference to Aristotle – in all periods where his book was known. His short book is somewhat the stage on which all such thoughts have been acted out. It is adequate to regard all western theory of drama, as comments on Aristotle - little more, but sometimes less, in the sense that his thoughts are repeated without much comment at all. In the Roman empire, on the stage of the Renaissance, through to the framework according to which every Hollywood movie is constructed, the dramatic rules expressed by Aristotle have been obeyed. His theories have never really been questioned, at least not dismissed, but some of the later interpretations of them have. When Aristotle and his Poetics can be doubted, this is usually because of a questionable later rephrasing of them, often in such a way that his words have been misinterpreted to be more categorical, more decisive, than they really are. Therefore, Aristotle has been questioned mainly when his rules of the drama have been regarded as more firm than he himself would have them, the most significant example of which is in the doctrine of the unity of time and place - the idea that a drama should only encompass the time span it would take to enact it, and occupy only the space that would fit onto a stage. In its essence as well as in its details, though, the Aristotelean structure of the drama remains intact. Still, the book has got its gaps – one being the fact that it was unknown to the Christian Era of European thought, with minor exceptions, until the very end of the 15th century, when in 1498 the Giorgio Valla Latin translation of The Poetics was printed in Venice, swiftly to be followed by a number of translations and commentaries. Other gaps are in the actual text, remaining with us in an incomplete form. Several parts of it are missing, but what we have is enough for a reliable understanding of Aristotle’s perspectives on the drama and its principles.

where there are but three possible choices: “those who are better than we are. whereas what fits on the stage imitates mainly by action. Mankind imitates from childhood and on. is a form of imitation – what sets the art forms apart is merely with what means the imitations are made. and the actions of such men. the comedy. though they partake of it but in a small degree. Comedy. “such as the forms of the most contemptible animals. The epic is alone in imitating merely by words. and poet meaning maker. He knows. and dead bodies. all being imitations but differing in three aspects: the means by which they imitate. For the drama.” men enjoy imitating – in pictures or other ways – thereby learning about them. but not to the extent that serious damage is done or pain induced. and so forth. but certainly a play not conforming to it would find the audience hesitant to laugh. and this is a question of vice and virtue. the objects they imitate and the manner in which they do it. meaning the same.” Here is where Aristotle sees the major difference between tragedy and comedy – the former imitating the better. but a writer of it Aristotle is not. the tragedy. And we learn according to our individual stature: “men of a more venerable character imitated beautiful actions.” The very basis of Aristotle’s definitions of the drama and “how fables must be composed. since learning “is not only most delightful to philosophers. (Also the word poetry relates to this. in the construction of fables.” Even things upsetting or painful. and not vices which terrify or disgust. Narrowing it down to the imitation made in poetry. but in like manner to other persons. but the more ignoble imitated the actions of depraved characters. which he regards as the lesser of the two.” Now. the choric hymn (dithyrambic poetry). after simply stating that “imitators imitate those who do something. actually any art.” Aristotle finds a choice to be made as to whom to imitate. since it is necessary with “a portion of turpitude”. what is being done is absolutely essential. what it takes to write convincingly – the poet must have as much of it as possible “before his own eyes. it needs to be both written and enacted “under the influence of passion. . and that accompanied by the flute and lyre. This is done primarily as a way of learning. he states. To persuade the spectators of the play.” in his own vivid imagination. Thereby Aristotle concludes that “poetry is the province either of one who is naturally clever. or of one who is insane. That would be better fit for the tragedy. of acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary. Aristotle sees the major forms being the epic.The Poetics It is clear that The Poetics is written by someone who takes great delight in drama. to agitate others. and the latter imitating the worse. or those who are worse. or such as are like ourselves. if only dealing with delightful things. He does not spell out the conclusion very clearly. he defines as “the composition of incidents. to make.” since one needs to be agitated oneself. though. but the latter.) The word fable. Any kind of poetry. He does not explore the reason for the necessity of this limitation of comedy. for which Aristotle takes an etymological support. comparing the word drama with the Dorian word dran. and takes delight in it – contrary to the animals.” This driving force of imitation is mighty. portrays the ridiculous.” is what he regards as its root: imitation. gives good reason for why no poetry suffices. disturbing form of imitation.

which is something achieved not by probability alone. one action means what we would call one complete story. Of these the fable is the principal part. the combination of incidents which are the action of the play. “the greatest of all things. but without action not. and it is essential that the person acts and speaks according to his character all through the play.” while the middle needs to have had something happen before. “through pity and fear effecting a purification from such like possessions. a middle and an end.” The chain of events has to be of such nature as “might have happened. what causes the actions? Aristotle sees two causes: sentiments and moral habit. . What takes place should have nothing irrational about it. This unity of action evidently contains a beginning.” It must be acted. “is not a part of the fable. before those possible but improbable. Manners he defines as those elements which make up what we recognize as a person’s character. but what lightens or darkens their emotions is none other than their actions. it is “an imitation of a worthy or illustrious and perfect action. or taken away. spectacle and music. to explain “what is inherent in the subject.” A tragedy can do without manners.” then diction putting it all into words. So. but action itself is. possessing magnitude. Aristotle calls an epic system.” and in doing so it “embraces manners on account of actions. By these two a person is described.” A tragedy lacking in this respect. The men have certain characters.” He stresses that the imitation taking place in tragedy is actually not of the noble men portrayed. Unity of action The fable. which make up its quality: fable. but the spectacle of scenic decorations and effects is the least important to the drama and its power. what happens to them. diction. or rather ingredients. since characters are not in the center of the tragedy. “the soul of tragedy. where the beginning is what is “not posterior to another thing. manners.” Aristotle even recommends things impossible but probable. what is included in it must be believable. consisting of many fables instead of just one. but if this is unavoidable. the whole would become different. so arranged in its transactions. Anything absurd can only exist outside of the drama. So.” followed by the manners. The play must reach an end. sentiment. whether it be included or excluded. “and through these actions all men obtain or fail of the object of their wishes. and none other. but of what deeds they do.” That which does not make a difference to the story. not narrated.” either being possible in the sense of probability or necessary because of what forewent. although it is questionable how well received it will be. which are according to their manners. “that any one of them being transposed. which is not to say it has to be about only one person. should be one – one story told. “for it is probable that many things may take place contrary to probability. while sentiment is how the one speaking explains his meaning. Music is “the greatest of the embellishments”. and something to happen after it. but after the end “there is nothing else.Tragedy As for tragedy. but it is from his actions that his quality is derived. in pleasing language. such events should have taken place outside of the drama enacted.” Aristotle concludes that a tragedy has got six parts. then the sentiments.

to evoke pity. yet not tragical. which evokes neither fear nor pity. “by which fable allures the soul. actual history is no guarantee. because it is without wickedness. is where someone intends to knowingly make a vicious deed.” The most beautiful tragedy need be complex. of things happening as they should. a grandness . but history of particulars. for one who resembles oneself. tragic events should not take place between two enemies. but does not commit it – which is wicked. The kind of action in a play. This change should be from prosperity to adversity. but on account of each other. Next to best is when a deed is done in ignorance. The revolution is a “mutation”. only after it discovered. with no damage. like when a brother kills a brother.” which is also the case if events out of fortune are such that they still give the impression of design. for “poetry speaks more of universals. “is excited for one who does not deserve to be unfortunate. by which actions turn into a contrary condition. since it is by no means certain that all of the audience is familiar with the facts. on the contrary. the events will “possess more of the marvelous. he calls simple. but rather a limitation risking to diminish the beauty and value of the tragedy.” This is merely a sign of bad poets.” The turn of events that Aristotle favors the most. says Aristotle.” The worst. “and the discovery excites horror. where it is “neither probable nor necessary that the episodes follow each other.” Still. though morally pleasing. then. “because it is void of pathos. tragedy tends to make use of actual events and persons. which still has to happen in a probable or even necessary way. “through their own want of ability. or a son his mother. but fear.” The good poet. Then the drama is accomplished. For the same reason. nor to have depraved characters go from adversity to prosperity. The discovery is simply a change from ignorance to knowledge of something central to the plot. who goes through a change of circumstances due to some error. it is no good to have the play make worthy men go from prosperity to adversity since this is simply impious.” Therefore. knows to make things happen in such a way as not to seem like pure chance. not the opposite. Then.Here. Pity. imitation. An action which includes neither discovery nor revolution. and put the story together so that it seems possible. to make the fable more credible. Aristotle refers to the magnitude called for. is when a terrible action is interrupted before completion. and much the same goes for a depraved man going from prosperity to adversity. since what has happened must be possible. but rather between friends or relatives. be it with or without actual events. The poet had better make use of his trade. The writer should avoid making his plot episodic.” is revolutions and discoveries. and “imitative of fearful and piteous actions. There is yet reason not to adhere to closely to historic events. and avoids it.” What remains is a person neither excelling in virtue nor being particularly vicious. but Aristotle regards the beauty of discovery as heightened if it is combined with revolution. but what has not would seem unlikely to ever do happen. otherwise complex – in which case it is essential that these “should be effected from the composition itself of the fable. or intends to do it – “such subjects are to be sought for. such as when someone discovers the mistake about to be made.” Unity of time As for the length of the play.

or admits but a small variation from this period. meaning that a drama should not occupy more space than what can realistically be arranged on a stage. Unity of place In drama the unities are actually three – that of action and time. The ideal time which the fable of a tragedy encompasses is “one period of the sun. pretty much the beginning. The end being the greatest of all things. then. but one which can be easily seen in its entirety – in the aspect of length. exode. is that of complication and development. are intervened by chorus. the epic poem is a narration. certainly significantly shorter. is not tending toward any single ending. though. following different laws from that of the drama. and sentiments and a good diction as well. At the same time as the epic can contain several possible tragedies. Aristotle concludes that the tragedy. and by the French dramatist Jean de la Taille. Brown Professor of Theater Nashville. tragedy with its superior ending must be the superior form of imitation. one that can easily be remembered. which the epic.” but the reverse is not the case. but there should be a unity of time.indeed. “being crowded into a narrower compass. though. even. and then of place. Th first three. Another division of the tragedy he makes.” but more essential and accurate a limitation is “when the time of its duration is such as to render it probable that there can be a transition from prosperous to adverse. The epic Where it is essential for the tragedy to be enacted. has no problem with. Tennessee . than the limited time he allows for its fable. in such a way as “of such things as have happened in that time. or from adverse to prosperous fortune. This third unity. the last one divided into parados (entry of the chorus) and stasimon (chorus fixed on stage). middle and end discussed above. The main difference between the two is that tragedy cannot imitate several actions taking place at the same time. also it shows more unity.” What happens. is not present in The Poetics. the tragedy does in no way serve as material for an epic. and can therefore attain its end “in a greater degree”. as in Aristotle’s book. as much as tragedy does. The epic story requires revolutions and discoveries. being a narration.” and the second is from this point to the end. episode. the epic or tragic. but invented in the 16th century by Lodovico Castelvetro. It is not necessary with the unity of action presented above. and chorus. Aristotle divides into the following parts: prologue. the first of which is from the beginning until the moment where there is a “transition to good fortune. but on the other hand Aristotle states that “tragedy has every thing which the epic possesses.” The time of the enactment of the play itself. the Italian translator of The Poetics. Raising the question of which imitation is the more excellent. Larry A.” becomes more pleasing. Aristotle on Greek Tragedy by Dr.

as some have suggested. . or gods: the title character of Euripides' Medea is a wicked sorceress who kills her own children. According to Aristotle. Aristotle recognizes many forms of imitation including epic poetry (Homer).larry. and dance. heroes. "Tragedy. majestic. . Several of these terms require clarification. it is presented in dramatic. the catharsis of such incidents" (ch. or serious (Golden 84). then.edu The word tragedy literally means "goat song. Earlier in the Poetics (ch. having the proper magnitude. Whatever its origins. A story with the proper magnitude for drama can be presented within two or three hours’ performance time. "Enhanced language" refers to the fact that all plays at that time were written in poetic verse rather than the language of everyday speech. Golden 11). while others demonstrate their ability to confront and surpass adversity. "Imitation" (mimesis) does not refer exclusively to acting out something on stage. painting. . According to Hardison. it employs language that has been artistically enhanced . Aristotle's Definition of Tragedy Aristotle first defined tragedy in his Poetics around 330 BC. tragedy came to signify a dramatic presentation of high seriousness and noble character which examines the major questions of human existence: Why are we here? How can we know the will of the gods? What meaning does life have in the face of death? In tragedy people are tested by great suffering and must face decisions of ultimate consequence. "Magnitude" refers not to the greatness of the subject matter. not narrative form. song. "There is nothing democratic in the vision of tragedy. but to the appropriate length of a production. the term could be translated as larger than life. Aristotle contrasts the shorter action of a play with that of an epic poem such as the Iliad. and achieves. is an imitation of a noble and complete action. The . winning our admiration and proving the greatness of human potential. through the representation of pitiable and fearful incidents.brown@lipscomb. and all subsequent discussions of tragic form have been influenced by his concepts. "Noble" does not mean that the characters are necessarily of high moral standing or that they must always be kings. 5). 6. As Steiner explains. Some meet the challenge with deeds of despicable cruelty." probably referring to the practice of giving a goat as a sacrifice or a prize at the religious festivals in honor of the god Dionysos.

royal and heroic characters whom the gods honor with their vengeance are set higher than we are in the chain of being. we come to expect the worst and would feel cheated if Haemon arrived at the last minute to rescue her. then during the course of the action. and Orestes is acquitted of any guilt. In Oedipus the . in this way tragedy relieves them of harmful emotions. not its effects on viewers. throughout the Poetics he focuses on dramatic form. commentators such as Else and Hardison prefer to think of catharsis not as the effect of tragedy on the spectator but as the resolution of dramatic tension within the plot. This explanation of catharsis helps to explain how an audience experiences satisfaction even from an unhappy ending. The conflict is successfully resolved when Athena appoints a court of law to uphold justice in such cases. bringing the plot to a logical and foreseeable conclusion. who happens to be Orestes' mother. However. Aristotle may have been offering an alternative to Plato's charge that the dramatic poets were dangerous to society because they incited the passions. providing a happy but contrived conclusion. Therefore. Orestes must avenge the death of his father by killing his murderer. he resolves the major conflicts. because of the insurmountable obstacles in the situation and the ironies of fate. Aristotle acknowledges that several Greek tragedies end happily. In Aeschylus' trilogy the Oresteia. According to this interpretation. Endless debates have centered on the term "catharsis" which Aristotle unfortunately does not define. While this is true of most tragedies (especially Shakespeare). but we recognize the probable or necessary relation between the hero's actions and the results of those actions. Usually we think of tragedy resulting in the death of the protagonist along with several others. and their style of utterance must reflect this elevation" (241). it is uncharacteristic of Aristotle to define tragedy in terms of audience psychology. Notice that Aristotle's definition does not include an unfortunate or fatal conclusion as a necessary component of tragedy. The dramatist depicts incidents which arouse pity and fear for the protagonist. Human nature may cause us to hope that things work out for Antigone. but. In tragedy things may not turn out as we wish. Some critics interpret catharsis as the purging or cleansing of pity and fear from the spectators as they observe the action on stage. leaving them better people for their experience. and appreciate the playwright's honest depiction of life's harsher realities.

but Aristotle was not talking about social or political distinctions. as Arthur Miller argued. Renaissance scholars understood this passage to mean that tragic characters must always be kings or princes. Likewise. For him character is determined not by birth but by moral choice. the one thing a tragic protagonist cannot be is common. The best type of tragic hero. To witness a completely virtuous person fall from fortune to disaster would provoke moral outrage at such an injustice. the common man is a potential subject for tragedy (in the sense that one need not be a king or a demigod to act nobly). a person who is neither perfect in virtue and justice." literally means "missing the mark. Sophocles wrote a sequel to this play called Oedipus at Colonus in which the hero finds a peaceful death after years of suffering to atone for his misdeeds. but his demise is seen as a happy ending to an unhappy life. The hero of tragedy is not perfect. 13). In tragedy people must make difficult choices and face serious consequences. This interpretation comes from a long tradition of dramatic criticism which seeks to place blame for disaster on someone or something: "Bad things . exists "between these extremes . Critics of previous centuries once understood hamartia to mean that the hero must have a "tragic flaw. The term hamartia. and comedy which imitates those of low or base character (ch. The Tragic Hero Aristotle distinguishes between tragedy which depicts people of high or noble character. A noble person is one who chooses to act nobly. while comedy is peopled with the working or servant classes. ." a moral weakness in character which inevitably leads to disaster. While it may be true that. 2). Much confusion exists over this crucial term. Tragic characters are those who take life seriously and seek worthwhile goals. but rather. Ordinary humanity belongs on the sidelines in tragedy. represented by the Greek chorus. however. one who succumbs through some miscalculation" (ch. nor one who falls into misfortune through vice and depravity.King the hero inflicts his own punishment by blinding himself. The tragic protagonist is always larger than life. but they do not always meet with death." taken from the practice of archery. which Golden translates as "miscalculation. . the downfall of a villainous person is seen as appropriate punishment and does not arouse pity or fear. while comic characters are "good-for-nothings" who waste their lives in trivial pursuits (Else 77). according to Aristotle. a person of action whose decisions determine the fate of others and seem to shake the world itself. but he goes into exile instead of dying.

" and disaster results.don't just happen to good people. it seems inappropriate for many others. so it must be someone's fault. (2) his choice of Thebes as a destination is merely coincidental and/or fated. we should not define hamartia as tragic flaw. actions which deserve our admiration rather than contempt as a moral flaw. The central plot concerns Oedipus' desire as a responsible ruler to rid his city of the gods' curse and his unyielding search for the truth. not from any single character trait. However. these actions occur prior to the action of the play itself. Searching for the tragic flaw in a character often oversimplifies the complex issues of tragedy. . True.) Furthermore. "missing the mark. Oedipus falls because of a complex set of factors. and concludes that this trait leads directly to his downfall. the critic predisposed to looking for the flaw in Oedipus' character usually points to his stubborn pride. but certainly not his fault. but can Antigone's desire to see her brother decently buried be called a flaw in her character which leads to her death? Her stubborn insistence on following a moral law higher than that of the state is the very quality for which we admire her. For example. however. While the concept of a moral character flaw may apply to certain tragic figures." For centuries tragedies were held up as moral illustrations of the consequences of sin. Given the nature of most tragedies. he kills Laius on the road. 13). What Aristotle means by hamartia might better be translated as "tragic error" (Golden's miscalculation). but the fact that this happens to be his father cannot be attributed to a flaw in his character. There is a definite causal connection between Creon's pride which precipitates his destruction. several crucial events in the plot are not motivated by pride at all: (1) Oedipus leaves Corinth to protect the two people he believes to be his parents. but the play never indicts Oedipus simply for murder. 15) but rather as an incident in the plot (ch. (A modern reader might criticize him for killing anyone. refusing to give way on a narrow pass. This misunderstanding can be corrected if we realize that Aristotle discusses hamartia in the Poetics not as an aspect of character (ch." This was the "comforting" response Job's friends in the Old Testament story gave him to explain his suffering: "God is punishing you for your wrongdoing. the protagonist makes an error in judgment or action. Caught in a crisis situation. (3) his defeat of the Sphinx demonstrates wisdom rather than blind stubbornness.

Hamartia plays no part in these tragedies. his mother. Except for its symbolic form. ironically. Given these examples. However. In his commentary Gerald Else sees a close connection between the concepts of hamartia. often a blood relative. innocent son thrown into a terrible dilemma not of his making. the plot reaches resolution or catharsis. Let’s begin with metaphysics: While Plato separates the ever-changing phenomenal world from the true and eternal ideal reality. . in Euripides' version of the story. Orestes must avenge his father's death by killing his mother. and exile. queen of the gods. goes insane and slaughters his wife and children. and we pity him as a victim of ironic fate instead of accusing him of blood guilt. we should remember that Aristotle's theory of tragedy. there are several tragedies in which the protagonists suffer due to circumstances totally beyond their control. He was equally interested in studying the anatomies of animals and their behavior in the wild. While Aristotle's concept of tragic error fits the model example of Oedipus quite well. Mistaken identity allows Oedipus to kill his father Laius on the road to Thebes and subsequently to marry Jocasta. Aristotle suggests that the ideal is found “inside” the phenomena. and catharsis. For Aristotle the most tragic situation possible was the unwitting murder of one family member by another. wishes to punish him for being the illegitimate son of Zeus and a mortal woman. Heracles. self-mutilation. we must point out that Aristotle was as much a scientist as a philosopher. it is essentially the same today. should not be used to prescribe one definitive form which applies to all tragedies past and present.Most of Aristotle's examples show that he thought of hamartia primarily as a failure to recognize someone. escapes punishment by seducing her former husband Menelaus. Helen. He was endlessly fascinated with nature. the only one who deserves blame for the war. while an important place to begin. only later does he recognize his tragic error. not for anything he has done but because Hera. but as an unfortunate. Aristotle also pretty much invented modern logic. In the Oresteia trilogy. the universals “inside” the particulars. Aeschylus does not present Orestes as a man whose nature destines him to commit matricide. the title characters are helpless victims of the conquering Greeks. and went a long way towards classifying the plants and animals of Greece. recognition. First. In The Trojan Women by Euripides. because he commits the crime in ignorance and pays for it with remorse.

the non-random ordering of it’s matter. the purpose. which some translate as actualization. definition.. Note that modern psychology usually relies on reductionism in order to find efficient causes. 4. is called entelechy. Essence is “perfect. This is what modern science focuses on. The material cause: The thing’s matter or substance. This was popular with medieval scholars: They searched for the ultimate final cause. exclusively. which they of course labeled God! Note that. the bullet may have been the “efficient” cause of death. . 3. we see some theorists focus on structure -. the heat. Aristotle called essence. Today. what was his purpose or intention? E. or essence. The formal cause: The thing’s shape. form. Why the statue? The purpose of it. for example. its purpose. 4. Essence and matter need each other! Essence realizes (“makes real”) matter. the hammer. Why a bronze statue? The metal it is made of. We often go down a “level” because we can’t explain something at the level it’s at. we find an emphasis on material causation in reductionism. for example. talked about psychosexual energy and Skinner talked about stimulus and response.” “complete. or essence. 1. to the point where this is what cause now tends to mean. values. They are answers to the question “why?” or “what is the explanation of this?” 1. explaining. The material cause: what something is made of. In psychology. 3. the movement from formless stuff to complete being. The efficient cause: the motion or energy that changes matter. the intention behind making it. Why the statue? Because of the plan the sculptor had for the bronze. But it isn’t always so: Freud.Piaget and his schema. in law. Matter is without shape or form or purpose.What Plato called idea or ideal. and its opposite. its definition. but the intent of the person pulling the trigger is what we are concerned with. goals. thoughts in terms of neural activity. outside of the hard sciences. the teleology of the thing. The formal cause: the thing’s shape.” but it has no substance.. for example. 2. and so on. When we talk about intentions.. feelings in terms of hormones. it’s shape or form. Others talk about the structure inherent in the genetic code. The efficient cause: The motion or energy that changes matter. Why the statue? The forces necessary to work the bronze. the energy. It is just “stuff.g. There are four causes that contribute to the movement of entelechy. This process. the ultimate purpose of all existence.” pure potential. The final cause: The end. he referred to as matter. Essence is what provides the shape or form or purpose to matter. no actuality. The final cause: its reason. no solidity. or about cognitive scripts. form. etc. we are talking about final causes. 2. the intention behind it. this is often the kind of cause we are most interested in: Why did he do it.

the essence of which is nutrition.. But desire prompts actions in violation of reason.. reason. of course. Like Plato. he postulates three kinds of souls.” And the struggle of the id and ego: “There are two powers in the soul which appear to be moving forces -. the “cause and principle” of the body. Plato also permitted women to attend! The Academy would become the center of Greek learning for almost a millennium. perhaps. This is the final cause of every creatures natural life. the realization of the body. There is a plant soul. always reaching for perfection.. as is the case when reason and appetite are opposed. appropriately. . We might put it like this: The mind is the purposeful functioning of the nervous system. which contains the basic sensations. in order that they attain as far as possible.. this last soul is capable of existence apart from the body. while desire regards the present. It was called. Then there is an animal soul. De Anima. In it. True to his ideals. desire. astronomy.” It is better known in the Latin form. but not least. It was free. He suggests that. is the human soul. law. the momentarily pleasant appears to it as the absolutely pleasant and the absolutely good. for example: “In all animals. although slightly differently defined.desire and reason. philosophy. we find the first mentions of many ideas that are basic to psychology today. and.Aristotle wrote the first book on psychology (as a separate topic from the rest of philosophy). desire. of course. He foreshadowed many of the concepts that would become popular only two thousand years later.. because it does not see the future. we become mature adults. it is the most natural function to beget another being similar to itself. bids us resist. Last. and the ability to cause motion. the immortal and divine. where rich young men studied mathematics.” And the pleasure principle and reality principle: “Although desires arise which are opposed to each other.. pain and pleasure. on account of the future. it happens only in creatures endowed with a sense of time. and through years of development and learning. The essence of the human soul is. depending entirely on donations.” And finally..." Plato (437-347) was Socrates’ prized student The Academy was more like Pythagorus’ community -. Libido. may be wrong.. such as the laws of association.. Para Psyche. he says the mind or soul is the “first entelechy” of the body. "So the good has been well explained as that at which all things aim. For reason. self-actualization: We begin as unformed matter in the womb. In this book.. Greek for “about the mind or soul.a sort of quasi-religious fraternity.

“magnets attract iron. if it recognizes what is good. On the other hand. Phenomena are appearances -. He divides reality into two: On the one hand we have ontos.these are universals. idea or ideal. in epistemology.Plato can be understood as idealistic and rationalistic. This is a similar conception of good and bad as the Buddhists have: Rather than bad being sin. In fact. or the lines a little thick. consider science. the phenomenal world strives to become ideal. naturally. This is what makes Plato a rationalist. 1+1=2. the triangles of the day-to-day experiential world. complete. which is a manifestation of the ideal. This is ultimate reality. and so on -. in that sense. immortal. eternal. it is considered a matter of ignorance. time. If it seems strange to talk about ideas or ideals as somehow more real than the world of our experiences. not true for one day in one small location. while phenomena are available to us through our senses. perfect.” E=mc2. and space. God creates the world out of materia (raw material. Phenomena are definitely inferior to Ideals! The idea of a triangle -. So.. Plato says the soul will always choose to do good. not reality itself. a motivating force. . someone who does something bad requires education. thought is a vastly superior means to get to the truth. as Socrates suggested in the dialog Meno. as opposed to an empiricist.the defining mathematics of it. he identifies the ideal with God and perfect goodness. it is not because of God or the ideals. and “unmoved” (enjoying free will). that nature has laws. You “remember. and so can only provide you with implications about ultimate reality. If the world is not perfect. Reason goes straight to the idea. the form or essence of it -. even though he died three and a half centuries before Christ! Plato applies the same dichotomy to human beings: There’s the body. which is ideal. which is material.. Ideals are. Phenomena are illusions which decay and die. not punishment. there’s phenomena. They only approximate that perfect triangle. much like Pythagorus but much less mystical. mortal. the ideal triangle.” or intuitively recognize the truth.is eternal. I think you can see why the early Christian church made Plato an honorary Christian. are never quite perfect: They may be a little crooked. of course.ideas or the ideal. Senses can only give you information about the ever-changing and imperfect world of phenomena. and “moved” (a victim of causation). perfect. permanent. or the angles not quite right. Any individual triangle. you believe in ideas! Ideas are available to us through thought. Ideals are unchanging. but true forever and everywhere! If you believe that there is order in the universe.things as they seem to us -. but because the raw materials were not perfect. spiritual. So..and are associated with matter. The law of gravity. Then there’s the soul. The soul includes reason. matter) and shapes it according to his “plan” or “blueprint” -. According to Plato. as well as self-awareness and moral sense.

he designs (through Socrates) a society in order to discover the meaning of justice. Greek for “no place”) to the three souls: The peasants are the foundation of the society. and to become more real in this deeper sense. not on one’s birth parents! And Plato includes women as men’s equals in this system. that education makes good men. goal-directed. please note: Everyone’s children are raised together and membership in one of the three levels of society is based on talents." ". Other analogies abound. A second level is sensuous or esthetic pleasure. and lives in the heart. It is also mortal. The warriors represent the spirit and courage of the society. as reason guides our lives. and space. Spirit is like a thoroughbred. which is mortal and comes from the gut.. and that good men act nobly.The soul is drawn to the good. time. We have one soul called appetite." "Our object in the construction of the State is the greatest happiness of the whole. the pleasures of the mind. in other words. such as admiring someone’s beauty. he compares elements of his society (a utopia. First is sensual or physical pleasure. We gradually move closer and closer to God through reincarnation as well as in our individual lives. It is immortal and resides in the brain. very powerful. steering both horses according to his will. and not that of any one class. The third soul is reason. and so is drawn to God. to liberate ourselves from matter. the answer is easy. self-realization. And reason is the charioteer. Our goal is. especially in Plato’s greatest work. of which sex is a great example. And the philosopher kings guide the society. is like a wild horse. i. In The Republic. Along the way. The second soul is called spirit or courage. refined. to come closer to the pure world of ideas and ideal. intellectual love for another person unsullied by physical involvement. The Republic. Our ethical goal in life is resemblance to God. take care of society’s basic appetites. well trained. I leave you with a few quotes: "Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher. They till the soil and produce goods. and philosophy begins in wonder. Before you assume that we are just looking at a Greek version of the Indian caste system. but likes to go its own way.. Paralleling these three levels of pleasure are three souls.e." "(I) do to others as I would they should do to me. Appetite. Here the example would be Platonic love. he says.(I)f you ask what is the good of education in general. Plato talks about three levels of pleasure." . the ideal. Plato is fond of analogies. directed power. The three are strung together by the cerebrospinal canal. But the highest level is ideal pleasure. or enjoying one’s relationship in marriage.

In many middle period dialogues. who was apparently a midwife. representing his belief in The Forms Plato often discusses the father-son relationship and the "question" of whether a father's interest in his sons has much to do with how well his sons turn out. a fresco by Raphael. A divine fatalist. nature and custom. representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience. and that it comes from divine insight. Socrates was not a family man. Plato holds his Timaeus and gestures to the heavens. Republic and Phaedrus Plato advocates a belief in the immortality of the soul. Socrates floats the idea that Knowledge is a matter of recollection. Republic 3. More than one dialogue contrasts knowledge and opinion.403b). because in many dialogues. Aristotle gestures to the earth. Socrates' disciples. and Plato often refers to his characters in terms of their paternal and fraternal relationships. perception and reality. he is found recruiting as a disciple a young man whose inheritance has been squandered. while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. A boy in ancient Athens was socially located by his family identity. and in the Phaedo.[29] He maintains this view somewhat at his own expense. and not of learning. and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife. .Philosophy Recurrent themes Plato (left) and Aristotle (right). Socrates twice compares the relationship of the older man and his boy lover to the father-son relationship (Lysis 213a. Crito reminds Socrates that orphans are at the mercy of chance. and saw himself as the son of his mother. towards whom he displays more concern than his biological sons. Socrates complains of his forgetfulness. and repeatedly ventures the idea that good character is a gift from the gods. Socrates is often found arguing that knowledge is not empirical. or study. such as the Phaedo. In several dialogues. and body and soul. a detail of The School of Athens. In the Theaetetus. but Socrates is unconcerned. observation. Socrates mocks men who spent exorbitant fees on tutors and trainers for their sons. say they will feel "fatherless" when he is gone.

According to Socrates. In several dialogues. religion and science. "happily without the muses" (Theaetetus 156a). Socrates . pleasure and pain. On politics and art. not only have a terrible struggle to attain the heights. eroticism. human nature and sexuality. and other forms of divine madness (drunkenness. the ideals of which they are mere instances. and this idea is most famously captured in his allegory of the cave. they find themselves objects of scorn and ridicule. crime and punishment. Just as shadows are temporary. and dreaming) in the Phaedrus (265a–c). justice and medicine. love and wisdom. He speaks approvingly of this. or cave of ignorance. Socrates admits that few climb out of the den. and those who do. Metaphysics Main article: Platonic realism "Platonism" is a term coined by scholars to refer to the intellectual consequences of denying. In Ion. While most people take the objects of their senses to be real if anything is. For example. such people live without the divine inspiration that gives him. and laughter as well. In other words. The allegory of the cave (begins Republic 7. physical objects and physical events are "shadows" of their ideal or perfect forms. Socrates is contemptuous of people who think that something has to be graspable in the hands to be real. most notably the Republic. and is not rational. Socrates gives no hint of the disapproval of Homer that he expresses in the Republic.514a) is a paradoxical analogy wherein Socrates argues that the invisible world is the most intelligible ("noeton") and that the visible world ("(h)oraton") is the least knowable. an expression that means literally. and with common sense. physical objects are themselves fleeting phenomena caused by more substantial causes. but when they go back down for a visit or to help other people up. if only it can be properly interpreted. rhetoric and rhapsody. inconsequential epiphenomena produced by physical objects. Socrates and his company of disputants had something to say. the reality of the material world. and exist only to the extent that they instantiate the perfect versions of themselves. and more explicitly in his description of the divided line. Socrates says in the Republic that people who take the sun-lit world of the senses to be good and real are living pitifully in a den of evil and ignorance. and people like him.Several dialogues tackle questions about art: Socrates says that poetry is inspired by the muses. access to higher insights about reality. The dialogue Ion suggests that Homer's Iliad functioned in the ancient Greek world as the Bible does today in the modern Christian world: as divinely inspired literature that can provide moral guidance. as Socrates often does. he says such people are "eu amousoi". Socrates's idea that reality is unavailable to those who use their senses is what puts him at odds with the common man. and the most obscure. and yet in the Republic wants to outlaw Homer's great poetry. Socrates says that he who sees with his eyes is blind. In the Theaetetus. Socrates inverts the common man's intuition about what is knowable and what is real. virtue and vice.

the wise person who accepts the power thrust upon him by the people who are wise enough to choose a good master. Socrates spoke of forms in formulating a solution to the problem of universals. that the most wisdom the masses can muster is the wise choice of a ruler. and properties we feel and see around us. Socrates claims that the enlightened men of society must be forced from their divine contemplations and be compelled to run the city according to their lofty insights. Socrates sometimes seems to recognise two worlds: the apparent world which is constantly changing. and Plato's "metaphysics" is understood as Socrates' division of reality into the warring and irreconcilable domains of the material and the spiritual. Edmund Gettier famously demonstrated the problems of the justified true belief account of knowledge. . This is the main thesis of Socrates in the Republic. The forms. This interpretation. (that is. but only an image or copy of the real world. The theory has been of incalculable influence in the history of Western philosophy and religion. they are universals). that the material world as it seems to us is not the real world. In other words. Thus is born the idea of the "philosopher-king". which may perhaps be a cause of what is apparent. The term is in fact applied to Aristotle's own teacher. The allegory of the cave (often said by scholars to represent Plato's own epistemology and metaphysics) is intimately connected to his political ideology (often said to also be Plato's own). that can only be perceived by reason (Greek: λογική). imports modern analytic and empiricist categories onto Plato himself and is better read on its own terms than as Plato's view. Theory of Forms Main article: Theory of Forms The Theory of Forms (Greek: ιδέες) typically refers to the belief expressed by Socrates in some of Plato's dialogues. however.thinks that perfect justice exists (although it is not clear where) and his own trial would be a cheap copy of it. that only people who have climbed out of the cave and cast their eyes on a vision of goodness are fit to rule. Epistemology Main article: Platonic epistemology Many have interpreted Plato as stating that knowledge is justified true belief. according to Socrates. Many years later. The word metaphysics derives from the fact that Aristotle's musings about divine reality came after ("meta") his lecture notes on his treatise on nature ("physics"). are roughly speaking archetypes or abstract representations of the many types of things. This interpretation is based on a reading of the Theaetetus wherein Plato argues that belief is to be distinguished from knowledge on account of justification. an influential view that informed future developments in modern analytic epistemology. and an unchanging and unseen world of forms.

sociology. if one derives one's account of something by way of the non-sensible forms. And opinions are characterized by a lack of necessity and stability. non-experiential form. It is only in this sense that Plato uses the term "knowledge". because Plato wrote dialogues.. asserts that societies have a tripartite class structure corresponding to the appetite/spirit/reason structure of the individual soul. if one derives one's account of something experientially.[1] It appeared in academia in the second half of the 20th century and grew to become one of the most popular approaches in academic fields concerned with the analysis of language. In the Meno. psychology. culture. it is assumed that Socrates is often speaking for Plato. The body parts symbolize the castes of society. in an eternal. so too is the account derived from them.e. through the words of Socrates. Papirus Oxyrhynchus. More explicitly. Structuralism originated in the linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the Prague and Moscow schools. The appetite/spirit/reason stand for different parts of the body. including anthropology. and society. Socrates uses a geometrical example to expound Plato's view that knowledge in this latter sense is acquired by recollection. in the Sophist.Really. who could not have otherwise known the fact (due to the slave boy's lack of education). . with fragment of Plato's Republic Plato's philosophical views had many societal implications. On the other hand. Plato. Republic. and the Parmenides Plato himself associates knowledge with the apprehension of unchanging Forms and their relationships to one another (which he calls "expertise" in Dialectic). In other words. Statesman. There is some discrepancy between his early and later views. because the world of sense is in flux. The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields. This assumption may not be true in all cases. as well as in the Laws and the Statesman. as a system of signs). Some of the most famous doctrines are contained in the Republic during his middle period. However.[30] Structuralism is an intellectual movement that developed in France in the 1950s and 1960s. the views therein attained will be mere opinions. in which human culture is analysed semiotically (i. The knowledge must be present. especially on the idea of an ideal state or government. Plato himself argues in the Timaeus that knowledge is always proportionate to the realm from which it is gained. because these forms are unchanging. Socrates elicits a fact concerning a geometrical construction from a slave boy. Socrates concludes.

the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. and gave rise.[1] As an intellectual movement. in Althusser's Marxist theory. Despite this. By the early 1960s structuralism as a movement was coming into its own and some believed that it offered a single unified approach to human life that would embrace all . Third. to the "structuralist movement. that every system has a structure.[4] In the 1970s. According to Alison Assiter. the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Second. the structural order of "the Symbolic" is distinguished both from "the Real" and "the Imaginary". similarly. Most members of this movement did not describe themselves as being a part of any such movement. structuralism was criticised for its rigidity and ahistoricism. The most important initial work on this score was Claude Lévi-Strauss's 1949 volume The Elementary Structures of Kinship. such as Jacques Lacan. four ideas are common to the various forms of structuralism. structures are the "real things" that lie beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning. structural laws deal with co-existence rather than change. Lévi-Strauss had known Jakobson during their time together in New York during WWII and was influenced by both Jakobson's structuralism as well as the American anthropological tradition. that a structure determines the position of each element of a whole. the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. Fourth. and the literary critic Roland Barthes. for example. In the late 1950s he published Structural Anthropology. The most famous thinkers associated with structuralism include the linguist Roman Jakobson. continue to assert an influence on continental philosophy and many of the fundamental assumptions of some of structuralism's critics (who have been associated with "post-structuralism") are a continuation of structuralism The term "structuralism" itself appeared in the works of French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. First. the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. real agents involved in its relations and from the ideological forms in which those relations are understood. a collection of essays outlining his program for structuralism."[3] In Lacan's psychoanalytic theory. and architecture.literary criticism.[2] Structuralism argues that a specific domain of culture may be understood by means of a structure—modelled on language—that is distinct both from the organisations of reality and those of ideas or the imagination—the "third order. the anthropologist Claude LéviStrauss. the structural order of the capitalist mode of production is distinct both from the actual. Structuralism is closely related to semiotics. In Elementary Structures he examined kinship systems from a structural point of view and demonstrated how apparently different social organizations were in fact different permutations of a few basic kinship structures. structuralism came to take existentialism's pedestal in 1960s France." which spurred the work of such thinkers as Louis Althusser. Structuralism rejected the concept of human freedom and choice and focused instead on the way that human behavior is determined by various structures. in France. many of structuralism's proponents. as well as the structural Marxism of Nicos Poulantzas.

Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida focused on how structuralism could be applied to literature. wrote some books which are clearly structuralist and others which clearly are not. such as Julia Kristeva for example. Deconstruction was an attempt to break with structuralistic thought." Kuhn nonetheless remarked at how coteries of scientists operated under and applied a standard praxis of 'normal science. Barthes. took structuralism (and Russian formalism) for a starting point to later become prominent post-structuralists. The term has slightly different meanings in French and English.' deviating from a standard 'paradigm' only in instances of irreconcilable anomalies that question a significant body of their work. Some intellectuals. As its popularity as a movement waxed and waned. Structuralism has had varying degrees of influence in the social sciences: a great deal in the field of sociology. Post-structuralism attempted to distinguish itself from the simple use of the structural method. considers structuralism as "a method and not a doctrine" because for him "there exists no structure without a construction. Blending Freud and De Saussure. in a different way.disciplines. Other authors in France and abroad have since extended structural analysis to practically every discipline. shaped the way in which people imagined knowledge and knowing (though Foucault would later explicitly deny affiliation with the structuralist movement). Jean Piaget applied structuralism to the study of psychology. or episteme. giving rise to "structural Marxism". Derrida is considered the paradigm of post-structuralism while in France he is labeled a structuralist. the French (post)structuralist Jacques Lacan applied structuralism to psychoanalysis and. In the US. American historian of science Thomas Kuhn addressed the structural formations of science in his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . Though less concerned with "episteme. abstract or genetic"[5] Michel Foucault's book The Order of Things examined the history of science to study how structures of epistemology. for instance. [edit] Structuralism in linguistics . Blending Marx and structuralism another French theorist Louis Althusser introduced his own brand of structural social analysis. But Jean Piaget. some authors considered themselves 'structuralists' only to later eschew the label. some authors wrote in several different styles. for instance. In much the same way. The definition of 'structuralism' also shifted as a result of its popularity. who would better define himself as constructivist.[citation needed] Finally.its title alone evincing a stringent structuralist approach.

See also: Structural linguistics In Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics (written by Saussure's colleagues after his death and based on student notes). and value (though these notions were not fully developed in Saussure's thought). Phonology would become the paradigmatic basis for structuralism in a number of different fields. In the United States. a "signifier" (the "sound pattern" of a word.g. that the difficulty Japanese speakers have differentiating /r/ and /l/ in English is because these sounds are not contrastive in Japanese. Saussure's Course influenced many linguists between World War I and World War II. Most importantly[says who?]. 'pat' and 'bat'). the Prague school sought to examine how they were related. The clearest and most important example of Prague school structuralism lies in phonemics. but rather on the underlying system of language (called "langue"). as did Louis Hjelmslev in Denmark and Alf Sommerfelt in Norway. either in mental projection—as when one silently recites lines from a poem to one's self—or in actual. The different functional role of each of these members of the paradigm is called "value" (valeur in French). Saussure argued that linguistic signs were composed of two parts: 1. In France Antoine Meillet and Émile Benveniste continued Saussure's project. Rather than simply compiling a list of which sounds occur in a language. which is called the "syntagm". however.[6] Other key notions in structural linguistics include paradigm. the analysis focuses not on the use of language (called "parole. morphemes or even constructions) that are possible in a certain position in a given linguistic environment (such as a given sentence). for instance. for instance. syntagm. it was revolutionary at the time. This approach examines how the elements of language relate to each other in the present. Thus in English the sounds /p/ and /b/ represent distinct phonetics because there are cases (minimal pairs) where the contrast between the two is the only difference between two distinct words (e. [edit] Structuralism in anthropology and sociology Main article: Structural anthropology . While this approach is now standard in linguistics." or speech). physical realization as part of a speech act) 2. Analyzing sounds in terms of contrastive features also opens up comparative scope—it makes clear. They determined that the inventory of sounds in a language could be analyzed in terms of a series of contrasts. Leonard Bloomfield developed his own version of structural linguistics. synchronically rather than diachronically. A structural "idealism" is a class of linguistic units (lexemes. members of the Prague school of linguistics such as Roman Jakobson and Nikolai Trubetzkoy conducted research that would be greatly influential. a "signified" (the concept or meaning of the word) This was quite different from previous approaches that focused on the relationship between words and the things in the world that they designate.

phenomena and activities that serve as systems of signification. Lévi-Strauss included this in his conceptualization of the universal structures of the mind. an early and prominent practitioner of structural anthropology. While replacing Marcel Mauss at his Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes chair. Authors such as Maurice Godelier and Emmanuel Terray combined Marxism with structural anthropology in France. For example. which he held to operate based on pairs of binary oppositions such as hot-cold. however. male-female. tabooed women. Lévi-Strauss argued that kinship systems are based on the exchange of women between groups (a position known as 'alliance theory') as opposed to the 'descent' based theory described by Edward Evans-Pritchard and Meyer Fortes. Another concept utilised in structual anthropology came from the Prague school of linguistics. Lévi-Strauss was inspired by information theory and mathematics[citation needed]. In the United States. meaning is produced and reproduced within a culture through various practices. Based on Mauss. A third influence came from Marcel Mauss.According to structural theory in anthropology and social anthropology. did not turn away from a fundamental structural basis for human culture. Lévi-Strauss' writing became widely popular in the 1960s and 1970s and gave rise to the term "structuralism" itself. religious rites. and food preparation. he produced more linguistically-focused writings in which he applied Saussure's distinction between langue and parole in his search for the fundamental structures of the human mind. voiced). Authors such as Eric Wolf argued that political economy and colonialism should be at the forefront of anthropology. literary and non-literary texts. for instance. In Britain authors such as Rodney Needham and Edmund Leach were highly influenced by structuralism. The Biogenetic Structuralism group for instance argued that some kind of structural foundation for culture must exist because all humans inherit the same . Structural anthropology fell out of favour in the early 1980s for a number of reasons. anthropologist and ethnographer Claude Lévi-Strauss. a trend which Sherry Ortner has referred to as 'practice theory'. or marriageable vs. authors such as Marshall Sahlins and James Boon built on structuralism to provide their own analysis of human society. More generally. Some anthropological theorists. culture-nature. criticisms of structuralism by Pierre Bourdieu led to a concern with how cultural and social structures were changed by human agency and practice. In addition to these studies. A structuralist approach may study activities as diverse as food preparation and serving rituals. where Roman Jakobson and others analyzed sounds based on the presence or absence of certain features (such as voiceless vs. and other forms of entertainment to discover the deep structures by which meaning is produced and reproduced within the culture. kinship (the alliance theory and the incest taboo). cooked-raw. while finding considerable fault with LéviStrauss's version of structuralism. arguing that the structures that form the "deep grammar" of society originate in the mind and operate in us unconsciously. analyzed in the 1950s cultural phenomena including mythology. who had written on gift exchange systems. D'Andrade suggests that this was because it made unverifiable assumptions about the universal structures of the human mind. games.

myths. There is considerable similarity between structural literary theory and Northrop Frye's archetypal criticism. which are combined in various ways to produce the many versions of the ur-story or ur-myth. but the effort to find unique structures in individual literary works runs counter to the structuralist program and has an affinity with New Criticism. and Claude Lévi-Strauss in seeking out basic deep elements in stories. ."[9] An example of such a reading might be if a student concludes the authors of West Side Story did not write anything "really" new. a model of a universal narrative structure. as scholar Catherine Belsey puts it: "the structuralist danger of collapsing all difference. because their work has the same structure as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. anecdotes. structuralist criticism relates literary texts to a larger structure. Structuralistic literary criticism argues that the "novelty value of a literary text" can lie only in new structure. the justification is that the second story's structure is an 'inversion' of the first story's structure: the relationship between the values of love and the two pairs of parties involved have been reversed. Some critics have also tried to apply the theory to individual works.Girl") and then the children commit suicide to escape the arranged marriage. In both texts a girl and a boy fall in love (a "formula" with a symbolic operator between them would be "Boy + Girl") despite the fact that they belong to two groups that hate each other ("Boy's Group . rather than in the specifics of character development and voice in which that structure is expressed. The versatility of structuralism is such that a literary critic could make the same claim about a story of two friendly families ("Boy's Family + Girl's Family") that arrange a marriage between their children despite the fact that the children hate each other ("Boy . or a "grammar of literature".system of brain structures. and more recently. Hence. there must be some way in which those texts unify themselves into a coherent system. that one learns in educational institutions and that are to be unmasked.Girl's Group" or "Opposing forces") and conflict is resolved by their death. They proposed a kind of Neuroanthropology which would lay the foundations for a more complete scientific account of cultural similarity and variation by requiring an integration of cultural anthropology and neuroscience—a program that theorists such as Victor Turner also embraced. a range of intertextual connections. which is also indebted to the anthropological study of myths. Structuralist readings focus on how the structures of the single text resolve inherent narrative tensions. [edit] Structuralism in literary theory and criticism Main article: Semiotic literary criticism In literary theory. Literary structuralism often follows the lead of Vladimir Propp.[7] Structuralism argues that there must be a structure in every text. which may be a particular genre. everything that is written seems to be governed by specific rules.[8] A potential problem of structuralist interpretation is that it can be highly reductive. or a system of recurrent patterns or motifs. Algirdas Julien Greimas. If a structuralist reading focuses on multiple texts. which explains why it is easier for experienced readers than for non-experienced readers to interpret a text.

often binary codes. As the political turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s (and particularly the student uprisings of May 1968) began affecting academia. RESOURCES ART AS NOT AUTON OMOUS Overview Structuralists view society and its rules as expressions of deep structures. WORKSHOP . commanded attention. There are many reasons for this. THEORY . A systematic study of such codes is semiotics. EXHIBITS . MODERNIST . The ethnologist Robert Jaulin defined another ethnological method which clearly pitted itself against structuralism. [edit] See also • • • Structural functionalism Structuralist economics Structuralist film theory TRADITIONAL . CRITICISM . deconstruction and its emphasis on the fundamental ambiguity of language —rather than its crystalline logical structure—became popular.[edit] Reactions to structuralism Today structuralism is less popular than approaches such as post-structuralism and deconstruction. Introduction: Pierce . rather than structuralism itself. By the end of the century structuralism was seen as an historically-important school of thought. but the movements that it spawned. issues of power and political struggle moved to the center of people's attention. In the 1980s. which was later hijacked by Poststructuralists as evidence that language alone provides a true reality. Structuralism has often been criticized for being ahistorical and for favoring deterministic structural forces over the ability of people to act. that express our primary natures.

Pierce side-stepped Descartes' scepticism. true versus false) and Saussure writes this opposition into his system. most things ultimately could be seen as signs: mathematical and logical symbolism. ways of clarifying. and the object represented in this opinion is real. concept) has any intrinsic value beyond what it . observing that we are persuaded by the number and variety of arguments supporting a conclusion.g. even science itself. Indeed. "The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed upon by all who investigate is what we mean by truth. But Saussure made it a cardinal feature of his system: the principle of arbitrariness. dominates all linguistics. The English call their faithful friend dog and the Spanish perro. No particular unit (word. even ourselves." Pierce examined these investigations (methods of inquiry. he said.). Semiotics is a theory of how we are guided and constrained in interpreting signs. and some of Pierce's terminology is still widely used: iconic (sign resembles referent). Binary opposition is a common feature of the western intellectual tradition (e. indexical (sign is causally associated with referent) and symbolic (sign has an arbitrary relation to referent). and as such constituted signs. there are reasons for the difference. individual versus society. identifying hypotheses. as had been noted since Aristotle. classifying them by the number of relations they exhibit. standards of inference. rather than by the meditations of one individual. sound.Ferdinand de Saussure was not the first to propose a science of signs: the American Charles Pierce (1839-1914) independently {1} developed semiology within the context of pragmatism. but Saussure's approach removes them from consideration: we look only at language as normal speakers use it now. Meaning and understanding involve threefold relations. Historically. Certainly the signified (concept) and signifier (sound or letter group) were connected only arbitrarily. Saussure's Semiotics Saussure worked on a much smaller canvas and devised a semiology that properly applied to linguistics. etc.

{2} Two points need to be made. associative. This paradigmatic way is not logical: we build up chains of associations — school.) but Saussure's approach cuts these off. who saw society as the determining force. Lévi-Strauss Structuralism originated in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss on pre-literate peoples. the binary opposition is a structuring device: a conscious choice. forms. but his thinking went back to the collectivist notions of the sociologist Emile Durkheim. Any unit (and that includes larger elements of syntax and meaning) can substitute for any other. aesthetic shape. described marriage in preliterate societies as an exchange between social groups. Secondly. competition. and has branched into deontic. Firstly. deriving sets of rules or structures that represented them in a quasi-mathematical terminology. or be compared to another. games. from experience of the world outside. etc. secular and scientific manner. social need. His doctoral thesis. LéviStrauss {3} was a contemporary of Sartre and French existentialism. similar or dissimilar. Lévi-Strauss analyzed the kinship and myths of Brazilian peoples. treating language as a self-contained system of signs. In this spirit. whether directly through sense impressions or via mental operations. The other is paradigmatic. commonly uses more than two values. and it is therefore societies as a whole that should be studied. Formal logic has a stronger case for the opposition (true or false) but has in practice an imperfect grasp on the world. . One is by virtue of being strung together in sentences: their syntagmatic relationships. in a rational. Words acquire their values in two ways. modal etc. published in 1949 as The Elementary Structures of Kinship. playtime. — where the end members have no obvious connection with each other. The arbitrary nature of signs is a product of that approach: it is not proved by his system but presupposed by it.derives from the presence of other units in the system. language can be studied from many aspects (as individual expression. Societies controlled the reasoning and morals of their citizens. etc.

Lévi-Strauss's novel insights range over an astonishingly wide field. abstractions to illustrate the practical. with gnomic. many anthropologists now think the approach unnecessary. . Grander still was the claim that Structuralism disclosed the foundations of society.e. together with his demonstrations of ways that natural and social behaviour lend themselves to cultural elaboration. Critique Lévi-Strauss was a theoretician par excellence. but had only six months of practical field experience to his credit. Language theorists were more critical. He drew widely on the work of others. as Structuralists would. but they did seek to understand the rules by which we interpret a piece of writing. and couched in a style unusual in science. "If birds are metaphorical human beings and dogs are metonymical human beings. metaphorical. and was hailed as important for that reason. {4} All the same. {6} Lévi-Strauss's theories were vaguely expressed or tautological: i. cattle may be thought of as metonymical inhuman beings and racehorses as metaphorical inhuman beings" is a typical example. Feminists were attracted to this explanation of the subordinate role of women. the implicit knowledge. skilled even. were important contributions in their own right. the conventions that enable readers to make sense of them must be formulated. Literary critics didn't go that far. and therefore the true meaning of human existence. totemism. His writing was very technical.an expression of a universal "reciprocity". couldn't be falsified. and his analysis of unsuspected relationships in myths. not scientific." {5} Of course the readers has to be competent. Jonathan Culler remarked in 1970 that "the real object of poetics is not the work itself but its intelligibility. Individuals become symbolic . One must attempt to explain how it is that works can be understood. but Culler did not elicited structures independent of social class and period. and kinship. Though his writing brought Structuralism to public notice. .

results have been very disappointing. {8} Perhaps the proof is in the eating. The last is worth stressing. poems? Not generally. Historians commonly use a structuralism when they talk of underlying trends and social movements: the growth of secular power in Tudor England. Certainly they employ a mathematical notation. The controversy surrounding Eynsenck's introversion-extroversion axes of personality theory. But the structures they . plays.concepts. demonstrates how variously human behaviour can make fun of mathematical treatment. can these structures really influence the laity? Abstracted in a simplistic. and more particularly Cattell's trait theory. Anthropologists themselves are currently much divided. even as to whether Lévi-Strauss properly collected the evidence {7} Being visible to none but the specialist. might be fairer. since substantiation calls on evidence that Structuralists and Poststructuralists have generally disdained to produce. but hardly credible to the workaday world. but something else to suppose that such structures really exist. reductionist manner. etc. moreover (to press the questions that plague Chomsky's deep grammar) was the status of these structures? It is one thing to identify underlying structures in the mythology and social behaviour of illiterate peoples. which is a useful notion for theorists like Foucault and Althusser. that they find expression in language and unconsciously control action. these structures may simply be taxonomic systems. Structuralism does not illuminate the work so much as substantiate its own models. useful for classifying. Has Structuralism provided interpretations that more exactly describe our aesthetic responses to literature? Are we clearer why we like some works and find others wanting? Can we look deeper and with a more generous discernment at novels. As with myth analysis. but hardly providing man with his raison d'être. but that does not guarantee that mathematics adequately represents the situation. lacking existence outside these conceptual schemes. What. {9} Or illustrate them. the loss of spiritual confidence in thirteenth century Islam.

etc. riots. deconstruction. Much the same applies to Chomsky's grammar.literature .theory Definition Literary theory is an umbrella term for many different movements in the formal study of texts. But different principles and methods of literary theory have been applied to non-fiction. structuralism) treat cultural events like fashion. historicism. which also employs deep. but even by how they define "text. which take different approaches to understanding texts (which can also mean non-fiction. or of language saying anything definite at all. football. largely hidden structures. --http://www. the movement soon branched into new areas: ideology and Poststructuralism. Evidence is collected. Specific theories are distinguished not only by their methods and conclusions. reader-response criticism. Schools that have been historically important include formalism (sometimes called 'new critical formalism' or 'the new criticism'). Literary theory literary criticism . and findings defended against alternative views. and and practically anything else that can be 'read' or interpreted). new historicism." For many. poststructuralism. but complex and empirically derived.e. feminism. There are many popular schools of literary theory. pop fiction. structuralism. Foucault adopted the looser. In fact. Most actual theorists combine methods of more than one approach. and psychoanalytic criticism. which literature students must include in their reading. law. etc. antirationalist approaches of Lacan. but Paris grew bored with Structuralism after the middle seventies.org/wiki/Literary_theory [2004] . 'high' art) texts" (see literature). film. "texts" means "literary (i. Books continue to appear. some theories (e. advertising. film. marxism.g. Whatever the shortcomings.adduce are not simple and universal. Derrida attacked the very notion of structure.wikipedia. {10} The theorists undermined their own precarious assumptions." Literary theorists are generally professors of English. historical documents. reasonably interpreted. as "texts.

Aram Vesser  New Weird China Mieville  Postcolonialism . and not at the goals of the author or biographical issues W.K. Cleanth Brooks. Erich Auerbach  Marxism (see Marxist literary criticism) . but.emphasized the role of literature in everyday life Paul Gilroy. the terms "literary theory" and "Continental philosophy" are nearly synonymous. (In many of these cases. Maurice Blanchot . Terry Eagleton.which sought to emphasize the ambiguities in a text Jacques Derrida. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Wimsatt.org/wiki/Literary_theory [Oct 2004] Schools of literary theory Listed below are some of the most commonly identified schools of literary theory. they are nonetheless listed here.criticism of structuralism Michel Foucault. Theodor Adorno. though some scholars would argue that a clear distinction can be drawn between the two.examines literature produced by countries that were once occupied by a governing force Edward Said. Elaine Showalter  Formalism  German hermeneutics and philology Friedrich Schleiermacher. since the 18th century. Leavis. John Guillory  Deconstruction . Valentin Vološinov. Julia Kristeva. since their work has been broadly influential in literary theory.Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism.which examines a text by also examining other texts of the time period Stephen Greenblatt.)  American pragmatism and other American approaches Harold Bloom. Richard Rorty  Cultural studies . such as those of the historian and philosopher Michel Foucault and the anthropologist Claude LéviStrauss. Paul de Man. Walter Benjamin  New Criticism . (In much academic discussion. aesthetics and hermeneutics. Fredric Jameson. Hillis Miller  Feminism (see feminist literary criticism) . In the 20th century. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.which emphasizes themes of gender relations Luce Irigaray.) --http://www. Jonathan Goldberg. H. Homi Bhabha  Post-structuralism . J. Its history begins with classical Greek poetics and rhetoric and includes. Wilhelm Dilthey. Robert Penn Warren  New historicism .which looked at literary works on the basis of what is written. along with their major authors. the late Roland Barthes.R. Raymond Williams. Hans-Georg Gadamer.which emphasized themes of class conflict Georg Lukács. most of which are informed by various strands of Continental philosophy. these authors were not literary critics and did not primarily write about literature. F. John Crowe Ransom. Hélène Cixous.wikipedia. Stanley Fish. Louis Montrose. "theory" has become an umbrella term for a variety of scholarly approaches to reading texts.

Alamgir Hashmi.literature New Criticism New Criticism. and not at the goals of the author or biographical issues. Vladimir Propp  Structuralism and semiotics (see semiotic literary criticism) -. Viktor Tausk  Queer theory . Hans-Robert Jauss. Claude Lévi-Strauss.org/wiki/Literary_theory#Schools_of_literary_theory [Aug 2005] see also: literary criticism . for example) Roman Jakobson. Eve Sedgewick  Reader Response .looks at works with close attention paid to the unconscious mind of the author Sigmund Freud. Jurij Lotman  Other theorists: Robert Graves.wikipedia. Jacques Lacan. Psychoanalysis (see psychoanalytic literary criticism) .focusses upon the active response of the reader to a text Wolfgang Iser. See also: http://en.theory . Mikhail Bakhtin. John Sutherland.wikipedia. literary theory popular in the first half of the 20th century looks at literary works on the basis of what is written. Stuart Hall  Russian Formalism Victor Shklovsky. Slavoj Zizek. Austin Warren .org/wiki/New_Criticism [Jan 2006] Theory Of Literature (1949) .Rene Wellek.examines. questions. and criticizes the role of gender in literature Judith Butler. Leslie Fiedler and Norhtrop Frye --http://en.examined the underlying structures in the content of a text (plot. the early Roland Barthes.

is remembered as an eminent product of the Central European philological tradition. rather than approaching criticism in a more ad-hoc fashion.Rene Wellek. Wellek defended the New Critics against the condemnation of their work in the name of a structuralist-influenced literary theory. he is sometimes thought of . In the United States. He studied literature at the Charles University in Prague. along with Erich Auerbach. first to the University of Iowa and then to Yale University. he became a friend and advocate of the New Critics. one of the first works which systematized literary theory. Wellek. 1949 René Wellek (1903-1995) was a Czech-German comparative literary critic." --René Wellek. Born in Prague. Beginning in the 1960s.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] Literature is "a stratified structure of signs and meanings which is totally distinct from the mental processes of the author at the time of composition. For this reason. He was active among the Prague School linguists there before moving to teach in London in 1935. Wellek was raised in Vienna speaking Czech and German.Theory Of Literature (1949) . With the critic Austin Warren. Wellek wrote the landmark volume Theory of Literature. Austin Warren [Amazon. During World War II Wellek relocated to America.

Wellek's final work was a lengthy. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color. was the dominant mode of academic literary study in the US at least from the end of the Second World War through the 1970s.literature .content . Some recent trends in academic literary criticism suggest that formalism may be making a comeback.org/wiki/Formalism_%28art%29 [Jan 2006] See also: form .literary theory . 1962).wikipedia. --http://en. --http://en. historical or intellectual) or the contexts of its reception. Formalism.wikipedia. The term groups together a number of different approaches to literature.Roger Fowler .1949 . formalism was substantially displaced by various approaches (often with political aims or assumptions) that were suspicious of the idea that a literary work could be separated from its origins or uses. Formalism dominated modern art from the late 1800s through the 1960s. formalism sometimes refers to inquiry into the form (rather than the content) of works of literature. in this broad sense. especially as embodied in René Wellek and Austin Warren's Theory of Literature (1948.theory A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms (1973) . Beginning in the late 1970s. 1955.today as a conservative literary scholar. The term has often had a pejorative cast and has been used by opponents to indicate either aridity or ideological deviance.wikipedia. many of which seriously diverge from one another.org/wiki/Ren %C3%A9_Wellek [Jan 2006] Formalism (literature) In literary studies. shape and texture rather than context and content.org/wiki/Formalism_%28literature%29 [Jan 2006] Formalism (art) Formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made. line. --http://en. but usually refers broadly to approaches to interpreting or evaluating literary works that focus on features of the text itself (especially properties of its language) rather than on the contexts of its creation (biographical. multiplevolume history of literary criticism. its purely visual aspects and its medium.

as ‘neo-classicism’ is for eighteenth. 1963) – but it resists the thesis that modernist style and sensibility are inevitable in our age. Modernist art is. Not only is much modern writing not modernist – so Stephen Spender distinguishes between 'modern' and 'contemporary' writers (The Struggle of the Modern. Eliot asserts that classic status can be known 'only by hindsight and in historical perspective.S.' Modernism Though [modernism is] sometimes loosely used as a label for the dominant tendency of the twentieth-century arts.Roger Fowler [Amazon. For modernism tends to propose special opportunities and difficulties for the arts. in most critical usage.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] Book Description Around 300 essay-style entries introduce the reader to the traditional terms of literary criticism and the central preoccupations of contemporary critical thinking. In What is a classic? (1944) T. ‘modernism’ raises problems crucial to the character and destiny of those arts. reckoned to be the art of what Harold .A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms (1973) .and ‘romanticism’ for nineteenth-century arts.

In visual art. and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color. its purely visual aspects. It is experimental. Its notion of the artist is of a futurist. with notions of cultural apocalypse and disaster. can be qualified by a wide variety of political attitudes and forms of historicism. Formalism (art) From Wikipedia. S. Expressionism. is considered to be of secondary importance. Surrealism) often radically at odds. The post-symbolist stress on the 'hard' or impersonal image (see IMAGISM) can dissolve into the fluidity of Dada or Surrealism or into romantic personalization: while the famous 'classical' element in modernism. . Formalism is an approach to understanding art. and its medium. the use Of STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS in Virginia Woolf. but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust their great artists' is Ezra Pound's definition. Further than this. its notion of the audience is that it is foolish if potentially redeemable: 'Artists are the antennae of the race. search In art theory. there are several modernisms: an intensifying sequence of movements from Symbolism on (Post-impressionism. formalism is a concept that posits that everything necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art. and content. materialism. line. context. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. Imagism. and content. the historical background. shape and texture rather than realism. and sharp differences of cultural interpretation coming from writers apparently stylistically analogous (e.Rosenburg calls 'the tradition of the new'. The context for the work. Eliot and William Carlos Williams). traditional genre and form. including the reason for its creation. conditions of crisis are evident: language awry. formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made. formally complex. From Wikipedia. Beyond art's specialized enclave. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. its purely visual aspects. A like technique can be very differently used (e. cultural cohesion lost. not the conserver of culture but its onward creator. perception pluralized. emanating particularly from Eliot.g. elliptical. Dadaism. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color. line. Its social content is characteristically avant-garde or bohemian. contains elements of decreation as well as creation. and the life of the artist. formalism is a concept that posits that everything necessary to comprehending a work of art is contained within the work of art. James Joyce and William Faulkner) according to different notions of underlying order in life or art. shape and texture rather than realism. Futurism. search In art theory. Vorticism. In visual art. hence specialized. its stress on the luminous symbol outside time. and tends to associate notions of the artist's freedom from realism. formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made. context.g. T.

Soon. or 'ideal'. gave pleasure to the mind. European structuralists continued to argue that 'real' art was expressive only of a thing's ontological. as well as those sensory aspects of a thing which the human mind can take in. Contents [hide] • • • • • 1 History of formalism 2 Formalism today 3 See also 4 Notes and references 5 External links [edit] History of formalism The concept of formalism can be traced as far back as Plato. Bell pushed for an art that used the techniques of an artistic medium to capture the essence of a thing (its 'significant form') rather than its mere outward appearance. By the 1930s and 1940s. they said. Knowledge is created only through socialization and thought. structuralists reasoned that the mental processes and social preconceptions an individual brings to art are more important than the essential.The context for the work. Plato believed that eidos inherently was deceptive. the Post-impressionist painter Maurice Denis wrote in his article 'Definition of Neo-Traditionism' that a painting was 'essentially a flat surface covered in colours arranged in a certain order. and the life of the artist. Formalism is an approach to understanding art. Subsequently.' For Bell. not the subject of the artistic work. Plato argued that eidos included elements of representation and imitation. the word 'form' was used interchangeably with the word 'structure'. In 1890. the historical background. But European art critics soon began using the word 'structure' to indicate a new concept of art. including the reason for its creation. of a thing. and a thing can only be known as it is filtered through these mental processes. Denis' emphasis on the form of a work led the Bloomsbury writer Clive Bell to write in his 1914 book. that there was a distinction between a thing's actual form and its 'significant form. since the thing itself could not be replicated. nature of the thing. . recognition of a work of art as representational of a thing was less important than capturing the 'significant form'. metaphysical or essential nature. Art. is considered to be of secondary importance.' Denis argued that the painting or sculpture or drawing itself. who argued that 'eidos' (or shape) of a thing included our perceptions of the thing. or true inner nature. Throughout the rest of the early part of the 20th Century.

It was a necessary illusion. and it's the only kind I can do. But my rhetoric wasn't very careful. he addressed the topic of 'formalism' directly. It became very important for this country in the '40s when the Abstract Expressionists finally decided they could compete with the French and stop being in tutelage. otherwise I couldn't have been misunderstood to the extent I have been. I say major because the difference between major and minor is very important. My prejudice. though I wasn't the only one. A necessary . it was held that I advocated a certain way of painting. as Professor Link says. It was an illusion. the American art critic Clement Greenberg. because you can't choose what to like and what not to like. and I was thought to believe in things that I was describing [as a program]. apparently. Now. argued that the value of art was located in its form. it was the fault of my rhetoric. private collection. In 1940. is towards representational painting. was abstract. And then it became used by the Bolsheviks (Communists is a dirty word) for any kind of art that was for its own sake. 1983. as such. and by one of these easy inferences that plague human thought. which is inseparable from its content. I was in favor of "pure" art in spite of the fact that I put quotation marks around "pure" or "purity" whenever I used them. Composition No. And then. I recognize that and I don't put the blame entirely on the people who misunderstood me. Sometime in the '50's the word formalism came up again in the mouths and at the pens of people I dare to call middlebrow. Formalism was originally the name of a Russian art and literary movement before the First World War. 1939-42. You only write about art that's already been made. I was made responsible for it. for modernist artists and it helped produce some great art and some great poetry. 10." which is a valid notion. January 18. Again. it's true. In a talk given by Clement Greenberg at Western Michigan University. after a while. I wrote a piece called "Modernist Painting" that got taken as a program when it was only a description. in an influential piece in Partisan Review. It became a dirty word like "art for art's sake.Piet Mondrian. oil on canvas. 80 x 73 cm. I haven't written a word in favor of a certain kind of painting that hasn't been made yet. but I had to accept the fact that the major painting of our time. and the major sculpture too. as against other kinds of art. Though I still say I haven't written a word that gives you reason to think that I'm for abstract art. because I don't believe there's any such thing as pure art.

structuralists focused on how the creation of art communicate the idea behind the art. It was also inferred that I had said there was some necessity working in this although I said nothing to that effect.[citation needed] Basically a plot is the story line or the way a story is written. I should have been more careful. A third view argues for a diale-discursive ontological knowledge. But I made the mistake of contenting myself with quotation marks and not saying "look. Structuralism's focus on the 'grammar' of art reaches as far back as the work of Marcel Duchamp. but even the simplest statements of plot may include multiple inferences. Instead. Plot (narrative) From Wikipedia. In many ways. or pure music. I'd been describing what I thought had happened under modernism. It was a necessary illusion for Picasso and for Cézanne. I'm simply describing. and for Valery. particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern. complicated plot is called an imbroglio. There is no such thing as pure art. An intricate. Aristotle on Plot Main article: Mythos (Aristotle) . Whereas formalism's focus was the aesthetic experience. But I blame myself.illusion for Mallarmé. or pure poetry. and nothing more and nothing less. say. A second view argues that representational elements must be somewhat intelligible.[1] [edit] Formalism today The concept of formalism in art continued to evolve through the 20th century. structuralists played down response in favor of communication. or by coincidence. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. Some art critics argue for a return to the Platonic definition for Form as a collection of elements which falsely represent the thing itself and which are mediated by art and mental processes. through cause and effect. structuralism draws on the tools of formalism without adopting the theory behind them. and maybe even for Ezra Pound. I don't believe this as a program. Anyhow I don't believe there is such a thing. search Plot is a literary term for the events a story comprises. One is generally interested in how well this pattern of events accomplishes some artistic or emotional effect." And so people assumed that was my program. as in traditional ballads. Whereas formalists manipulated elements within a medium. structuralists purposely mixed media and included context as an element of the artistic work. a sequence. but must still aim to capture the object's 'Form'.

when on the point of giving her up to her enemy. however. is for the deed to be done in ignorance. and the bad person. In tragedy. in Iphigenia. ([Poetics book 14]) Russian Formalism From New World Encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. and an end. and in Helle. Boris Eichenbaum. a middle.g. for example. and leaves it undone. . The types of character are the morally excellent person.more important than character. Yuri Tynianov. Next after this comes the actual perpetration of the deed meditated. since there is nothing odious in it. or probable. Aristotle goes on to consider whether the tragic character suffers (pathos). what we have in Cresphontes. and the events of the plot must causally relate to one another as being either necessary. (Aristotle's work on comedy has not survived. for example. are from good fortune to bad. He illustrates this with the question of a tragic character who is about to kill someone in his family. where the son recognizes his mother. he says. the average person. and the discovery will serve to astound us. a plot has two main parts: it tells of a change in fortune that happens to a character. also translated as "tragic flaw"). emotions which he considers in his Rhetoric. hence it is that no one is made to act thus except in some few instances. or bad to good. where sister and brother are in a like position. recognizes him in time. A better situation than that.) For Aristotle. e. and Grigory Vinokur) who revolutionized literary criticism between 1914 and the 1930s by establishing the priority and autonomy of poetic language in the study of literature. A plot must have. It is odious and also (through the absence of suffering) untragic. Haemon and Creon in Antigone. where Merope. Of the utmost importance to Aristotle is the plot's ability to arouse emotion in the psyche of the audience. The most tragic is the plot of a morally average character who goes from good fortune to bad because of a miscalculation or error (Hamartia. and he ranks these according to their ability to arouse fear and pity. The worst situation [artistically] is when the personage is with full knowledge on the point of doing the deed. Aristotle says. But the best of all is the last. Aristotle considered plot ("mythos") the most important element of drama -. search Previous (Russian Federation) Next (Russian Orthodox Church) Russian formalism was an influential school of literary criticism in Russia from the 1910s to the 1930s.In his Poetics. and whether the tragic character commit the error with knowledge of what he is doing. Aristotle only discusses four of the six possible combinations as being relevant to tragedy. and the relationship discovered afterwards. The only kinds of change. the appropriate emotions are fear and pity. a beginning. on the point of slaying her son. Roman Jakobson. It includes the work of a number of highly influential Russian and Soviet scholars (Viktor Shklovsky.

and no consensus amongst its proponents on a central aim to their endeavors. but it can be grouped into four chronological stages."[1] Under Josef Stalin. Criticism Leavis in his writing was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century English literary criticism. his perspective for commentary was noticeably broadening. and this was accomplished under the strong influence of T. Following this period Leavis pursued an increasingly complex treatment of literary. and the modern university subject has been shaped very much by Leavis’s example. In fact. H. Society for the Study of Poetic Language) in Saint Petersburg and the Linguistic Circle in Moscow. it is more precise to refer to the "Russian formalists. Therefore. It might have been convenient as a simplified battle cry but it fails. Russian formalism was a diverse movement. Leavis's criticism is difficult to directly classify. producing The Great Tradition (1948) and D. but it was not a very felicitous coinage." rather than to use the more encompassing and abstract term of "formalism.Russian formalism exerted a major influence on thinkers such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Yuri Lotman. educational and social issues. Leavis insisted that evaluation was the principal concern of criticism. as an objective term. literature was largely interpreted based on its ideological components. The result is an appreciation for the creative act itself. In the words of one of the foremost formalists. to delimit the activities of the "Society for the Study of Poetic Language. The movement's members are widely considered the founders of modern literary criticism." The term "formalism" was first used by the adversaries of the movement. producing no unified doctrine. and this was most visible in Nor Shall my Sword (1972). Prior to formalism.. Formalism fundamentally altered the way literature was understood. Though the hub of his work remained literature. He then turned his attention to fiction and the novel. and that it must ensure that English literature should be a living reality operating as an informing spirit in society. Here he was concerned primarily with reexamining poetry from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. He introduced a "seriousness" into English studies. Also during this early period Leavis sketched out his views about university education. it became a pejorative term for elitist art. and on structuralism as a whole. and that criticism should involve the shaping of contemporary sensibility (Bilan 61).. Leavis possessed a very clear idea of literary criticism and he was well known for his decisive and often provocative judgements. Eliot. . The first is that of his early publications and essays including New Bearings in English Poetry (1932) and Revaluation (1936). Lawrence. Novelist (1955). historical interest or as a reflection of the author's mentality. S. "Russian formalism" describes two distinct movements: the OPOJAZ (Obscestvo izucenija POeticeskogo JAZyka. and the artistic strategies of the author. Formalism made the literary text.. the focus of its study. and as such it conveys a meaning explicitly rejected by the formalists themselves. Boris Eichenbaum: "It is difficult to recall who coined this name.

In discussing the nature of language and value. George Eliot. . as Leavis refused to separate art from life. S. Much of this is due to the fact that a large portion of what he had to say about poetry was being said by others around him at the time. Authors within this tradition were all characterised by a serious or responsible attitude to the moral complexity of life and included Jane Austen. suggesting that nineteenth-century poetry sought the consciously ‘poetical’ and showed a separation of thought and feeling and a divorce from the real world. Eliot who made us fully conscious of the weakness of that tradition’ (Leavis 31). Leavis’s main tenet stated that great novelists show an intense moral interest in life. were considerably enhanced by Leavis's proclamation of their greatness. [edit] On the novel As a critic of the novel. Lawrence. and D. The Living Principle: ‘English’ as a Discipline of Thought (1975). or the aesthetic or formal from the moral. Eliot and Ezra Pound's poetry. His dislike of John Milton. The influence of T. S. Although these later works have been sometimes called "philosophy".a position set out in his famous early exchange with Rene Wellek (Stotesbury)[1]. [edit] On poetry Though his achievements as a critic of poetry were impressive. saying in The Common Pursuit that. and also the reading of Gerard Manley Hopkins. This proved to be a contentious issue in the critical world. He insisted that the great novelist’s preoccupation with form was a matter of responsibility towards a rich moral interest. and that works of art with a limited formal concern would always be of lesser quality. The early reception of T. in New Bearings in English Poetry Leavis attacked the Victorian poetical ideal. Leavis is widely accepted to have been a better critic of fiction and the novel than of poetry. Words and Creativity: Art and Thought in Lawrence (1976). and that this moral interest determines the nature of their form in fiction (Bilan 115). on the other hand.Two of his last publications embodied the critical sentiments of his final years. the dependence on Eliot was still very much present. ‘It was Mr. and Leavis acknowledged this. In The Great Tradition Leavis attempted to set out his conception of the proper relation between form/composition and moral interest/art and life. but Leavis demonstrated an individual critical sense operating in such a way as to place him among the distinguished modern critics. Leavis implicitly treats the sceptical questioning that philosophical reflection starts from as an irrelevance from his standpoint as a literary critic . there is no abstract or theoretical context to justify such a description. Henry James. and Thought. Eliot is easily identifiable in his criticism of Victorian poetry. Joseph Conrad. had no great impact on Milton's popular esteem. H. In his later publication Revaluation. Nonetheless.

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being. political. Marxist criticism views literary works as reflections of the social institutions out of which they are born. which is based on the socialist theories of Karl Marx and examines literature as a reflection of the social institutions from which it arises. although he did not expound in detail on the . but on the contrary their social being. but that it arises out of the economic and ideological circumstances surrounding its creation. including Zur Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie (1859). In essence. he did detail the relationship between economic determinism and the social superstructure in various texts. Marxists believe that a work of literature is not a result of divine inspiration or pure artistic endeavor. INTRODUCTION Based on the socialist and dialectical theories of Karl Marx. that determines their consciousness.Marxist Criticism The following entry discusses Marxist criticism. even literature itself is a social institution and has a specific ideological function. For Marxist critics. and intellectual life process. based on the background and ideology of the author. works of literature often mirror the creator's own place in society. where he stated: “The mode of production of material life determines altogether the social. According to Marxists. Marx-Engels Monument in Berlin.” Thus. and they interpret most texts in relation to their relevance regarding issues of class struggle as depicted in a work of fiction. Although Marx did not write extensively on literature and its place in society.

literary criticism has expanded in scope to address issues of social and political significance. guiding both literary creation and official literary criticism in Russia. Both texts explore the failure of Marxist philosophy in the modern world. although uncertain about the length of time it would take for the new economic standards to create a new culture. Marxist critics such as Raymond Williams and Fredric Jameson have expanded their realm of study to include cultural and political studies in their interpretations of literature. In the case of Claude McKay. Born in Hungary.” Wright explores fundamental Marxist ideas. it was not until the 1920s that Marxist literary theory was systematized. one of the most influential Marxist critics was Georg Lukács. notes Michael Ryan in his essay on the state of contemporary cultural and literary studies. were deeply influenced with Marxist and socialist theories of the day. Jean Paul Sartre. In recent years. Christian Bök notes that while both stories are about people yearning for a socially responsible society. Simone de Beauvoir. Marxist critics. along with feminists. the writing is permeated with a sense of failure regarding the effectiveness of this vision. . Many writers. Marxist theory provided a framework for issues of racial inequality and justice that were often addressed in his works. believed that such a change was imminent. Following the failure of the Communist revolution. In addition to being the guiding principle behind most literary works in communist and socialist Russia. Russian literary theory has modified its extreme socialist stance to acknowledge that literary creation is a result of both subjective inspiration and the objective influence of the writer's surroundings. Socialist Realism was accepted as the highest form of literature. including Richard Wright. He has defined his Marxist theories of literature and criticism in such works as Die Eigenart des Asthetischen (1963). Claude McKay. Marxism also greatly influenced Western writers. Marxist critics and writers were faced with the realization that Socialism had failed as a practical ideology. The greatest impetus for this standardization came after the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia. and in his essay discussing these writers. it is agreed among most scholars that Marx did view the relationship between literary activity and the economic center of society as an interactive process. In the years since then. Although Marx and Friedrich Engels detailed theories of Socialism early in the twentieth century.connections between literature and society. The resulting socialist form of government and society. and remains central to the study of Marxist criticism today. and much of this reflection is evident in their writings of the time. In stories such as “Long Black Song” and “Down by the Riverside. have begun studying literary criticism as an aspect of cultural sciences. This sense of failure is reflected in such works as Mavis Gallant's What Is to Be Done? (1983) and Earle Birney's Down the Long Table (1955). In the meantime. In this regard. and James Joyce. Lukács joined the Communist Party in 1918 and later migrated to Russia. Outside of the Soviet Union.

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