Evaluate Aristotle’s theory of poetic truth

Evaluate Aristotle’s theory of poetic truth

Evaluate Aristotle’s theory of poetic truth : Aristotle’s concept of poetry actually involves a defence of poetry against the charge that poetry is a copy of a copy. This was the impression created strongly and logically by Plato. But Aristotle it was who could see the flaws in this logic. He asserted that poetry is not a slavish. Copying of the external appearances of things. It is a recreative limitation, it involves the effort of the imagination and the intellect the poet sifts his material, selects the most relevant portions, and imposes order and design on the chaotic material of life and univeralizes the particular.

Evaluate Aristotle’s theory of poetic truth

The truth involved in poetry is higher than that embodied in history. Poetry has a lot in common with philosophy – there is in it a search for truth, search for universal truth. The historical facts appear a chronological order. But the poet is selective and rational in the arrangement of details. He eliminates the irrelevant matter, the non-essesntial or the merely incidental. The law of probability and necessity refers to the internal structure of the poem. It brings about the close cohesion of the parts,

One might argue that this kind of order and design is far removed from real life in which things happen without apparent cause. Why should then It be held that the truth of poetry depends upon the law of probability or on proper relationship between cause and effect? The very fact that the poet selects his material and imposes order about it embodies the essence of poetic truth. It is through this process of ordering material into a cohesive whole that a poet achieves the idealisation of appearances.

The men and women we read about in poetry are not real in the usual sense of the term. They are always slightly different, either better or lower than average. The probable laws of their behavior cannot be measured against the standards of average humanity. The rules of ordinary experience do not govern the higher creations of poetry. Poetry imitates the essence and not the appearances. It reveals the ideal possibilities inherent in human life. All that the truth of poetry demands is that the actions of the characters in the poem be logical.

The poet, Aristotle is quite willing to admit, tells lies, but it is required that these lies be convincing credible and probable. The most impossible occurrence, incident or character becomes credible through the poet’s imagainative handling. Poetic illusion has to be created with a master touch. The poet makes the probable rational And it gains our credibility. Even the impossible can be made to look probable if it is given a logical inevitability the only improbability which cannot be overcome by the poet’s art is moral improbability. This is the improbability arising out of the violation of the basic laws of human behaviour. These violate the very principles of human nature, and do not have a place in poetry at all. They cannot be glossed over by any skillful technique.

Poetry is not a photographic representation of the world of appearance and all its mundane trivialities. Poetry’s truth is based on the basic elements of human nature the everlasting, universal aspects of human life. Poetry ignores’ the non-essentials, removes irrelevances and concentrates of the essentials. It represents the universal, while history deals with the specific events. Poctic truth is higher than that of history.

Aristotle enunciates a doctrine which holds good for all ages – the presence of a universal element in all great poetry, accounting for its permanent appeal while at the same time he showed how a reconciliation might be effected between poetry and philosophy. Plato had indeed shown that an element of intition was common to the processes of philosopher and poet both; but it remained for Aristotle to complete the vindication of poetry, and to recommend the claims of philosophy and poetry by showing that both were avemens to the higher truth.

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