What are Aristotle's views on 'mimesis' in the Poetics?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aristotle's main treatment of "mimesis" occurs in his Poetics. The term mimesis is used in Greek to mean "imitation". Aristotle's teacher, Plato, wrote extensively about painting and poetry, describing them both as mimetic arts, and embedding that description in an ontology in which the sensibilia imitated the forms. Because, therefore, artistic works were mere imitations of imitation, Plato was generally opposed to the mimetic arts, especially drama.

Aristotle, on the other hand, while agreeing that poetry was fundamentally imitative, saw imitation as a morally neutral and natural human activity. He thought that by experiencing poetry, people could improve their moral character and examine, in hypothetical form, ethical issues.