Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition

Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition

Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 210
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    Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition
    Book Description:

    When Philip Sidney defends poetry by defending the methods used by poets and lawyers alike, he relies on the traditional association between fiction and legal procedure--an association that begins with Aristotle. In this study Kathy Eden offers a new understanding of this tradition, from its origins in Aristotle's Poetics and De Anima, through its development in the psychological and rhetorical theory of late antiquity and the Middle Ages, to its culmination in the literary theory of the Renaissance.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5832-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-6)

    InAn Apology For Poetry(c. 1580), Philip Sidney eloquently defends poetry against the various charges of its detractors by contrasting the poet’s method with the historian’s and the philosopher’s. Significantly, both contrasts rely on a comparison between the poet’s method and the lawyer’s. Whereas the historian, in his commitment to the facts, can mislead the seeker of truth, the poet, like the lawyer, aims at an altogether different kind of truth, which is most aptly expressed by a fiction:

    And therefore, as in History looking for truth, they go away full fraught with falsehood, so in Poesy looking but...

  5. ONE Legal Proof and Tragic Recognition: The Aristotelian Grounds of Discovery
    (pp. 7-24)

    In recent years, we have begun to rediscover how much the tragic stage and the law courts of fifth- and fourth-century Athens owe to one another. Their shared concern with questions of justice, for instance, is now well documented. So is the fact that both institutions developed at roughly the same time and in the same place, giving historical validity to the intuition that both activities are quintessentially Athenian.¹ The average citizen might be unlucky enough to lack the talent of playwright or actor and lucky enough to keep his affairs in order; but he would still have participated very...

  6. TWO Poetry and Equity: Aristotle’s Defense of Fiction
    (pp. 25-61)

    In the previous chapter, we saw the extent to which Aristotle’s formulation of tragic discovery, as an important element of his poetic theory, corresponded to his treatment of legal proof in theRhetoric. In this chapter, in order to explore further the Aristotelian analogy between tragedy and law, we will need to expand the scope of our investigation to include theNicomachean Ethics—a work which bears significantly on theRhetoricand thePoetics. It is fitting, moreover, that Aristotle’s rhetorical and poetic arts should depend on his ethical theory. Aristotle defines rhetoric as the combination of dialectic and ethics,...

  7. THREE Rhetoric and Psychology: The Aristotelian Foundations of the Poetic Image
    (pp. 62-111)

    In thePoetics, as we saw in the previous chapter, Aristotle answered directly Plato’s objections to tragic poetry by redefining both the logical and the psychological bases of the fictional method. Brought into the closest affiliation with legal and ethical inquiry, fiction emerged from thePoeticsas the literary counterpart to equity in ethics and law. The logical structure of tragic fiction, working to create tragedy’s peculiar psychological pleasure, was seen to correspond to the logical and psychological processes that in the law courts regularly culminate in an equitable judgment. The disposition toward making right judgments, in fact, might even...

  8. FOUR Image and Imitation: Aristotle’s Contribution to a Christian Literary Theory
    (pp. 112-175)

    Defending the art of poetry against its detractors both ancient and modern, Philip Sidney defines the art in question according to his understanding of the Aristotelian position. Poetry, Sidney maintains, is an art of imitation, “that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth”; it is an art of “feigning notable images” designed either to be pursued or avoided: “If the poet do his part aright, he will show you in Tantalus, Atreus, and such like, nothing that is not to be shunned; in Cyrus, Aeneas, Ulysses, each thing to be followed.” This kind of image, when skillfully imitated,...

  9. APPENDIX: Hamlet and the Reaches of Aristotelian Tragedy
    (pp. 176-184)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 185-198)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-199)