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The term "imitation" did not originate with Aristotle. Although Aristotle gave the term a new and distinct meaning, Plato was the first to use it in connection with poetry. Therefore, poetic imitation is no longer regarded as mimicry but rather as an imaginative creation in which the poet creates something new from material derived from the phenomenal world. 

According to Aristotle, poetry and other fine arts are united by the principle of imitation, which serves as the common foundation for all fine arts. As a result, it distinguishes the fine arts from other types of arts. Aristotle compares poetry to music, whereas Plato equated poetry with painting. It becomes a representation of men's passions and emotions, which are also imitated by music, rather than a servile depiction of the appearance of things. As a result, Aristotle expanded the scope of imitation with his theory. The reality that lies beneath the surface is what the poet imitates. Aristotle states in the very first chapter of the Poetic: 

In their general conception, epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, and dithyrambic poetry, in addition to the majority of flute and lyre music, are modes of imitation. However, they differ from one another in three ways: the medium, the objects, and the method of imitation are all distinct. 

The poet and the painter work in different ways. The first mimics form and color, while the second mimics language, rhythm, and harmony. The musician mimics harmony and rhythm. As a result, poetry is more like music. In addition, a poet may express themselves solely in a narrative way, as in the Epic, or through action, as in drama. Because it portrays man as better or worse, dramatic poetry is divided into tragedies and comedies. 

According to Aristotle, "men in action" are the objects of poetic imitation. Men are depicted by the poet as being worse than they are. Based on historical and mythological evidence rather than any living person, he is able to portray men more accurately than anyone else. The poet reimagines reality by selecting and organizing his material. He restores order to chaos. The enduring and significant are given priority over the irrational or accidental. As a result, he presents an ideal truth. He has no connection to the world: The poet's job is not to describe what has happened, but rather what might happen, in accordance with the laws of necessity or probability. 

History reveals the actual events; poetry is what might transpire. Verse will in general communicate the widespread, history of the specific. He shows that poetry is better than history in this way. The poet, liberated from the tyranny of facts, views the world from a broader perspective, depicts the universal in the particular, and thus shares the philosopher's search for the ultimate truth. Thus, he establishes an analogy between poetry and philosophy and demonstrates that both are means to a higher truth. Aristotle meant by the term "universal" the following: How an individual of a specific sort or type will, on a specific event, talk or act, as indicated by the law of likelihood or need. The poet always shifts from the specific to the general. He investigates the particular and develops general application principles. He goes beyond the limits of life without breaking any fundamental human nature rules. 

Aristotle states, "Art imitates Nature" elsewhere. He refers to "the creative force, the productive principle of the universe" rather than the outer world of created things when he says "Nature." Art primarily reproduces an inward process, physical energy working outwardly, deeds, incidents, and situations that arise from an internal act of will or draw some activity of thought or feeling are included under it. Men are rendered "as they ought to be" by him.

The objects are "men in action," but the poet mimics nature's creative process. Now, the "action" can be either "internal" or "external." It could be the inner reaction to everything that a man goes through. As a result, he incorporates human experiences, feelings, and passions into poetic imitation. Moral qualities, characteristics, the mind's permanent temper, and temporary emotions and feelings are all actions and, as a result, objects of poetic imitation, according to Aristotle's theory. 

Poetry can either imitate men as they actually are or portray them as better or worse than they actually are. Tragic and epic portray men on a more heroic scale than they do, whereas comedy portrays men of a lower class and is worse than they are. The third possibility is not discussed by Aristotle. This indicates that poetry does not strive for photorealism. In this regard, R. A. Scott-James highlights the following: 

Aristotle was completely ignorant of the "realistic" or "fleshy" school of fiction, also known as the Zola or Gissing school. Abercrombie, on the other hand, argues that Aristotle was correct not to discuss the third variant. He adds: Although it is possible to imagine life exactly as it is, it is more exciting to imagine life as it might be, and it is at this point that imagination develops into an impulse that can inspire poetry.

Aristotle's theory of imitation provides an answer to Plato's claim that poetry is an imitation of a "shadow of shadows," which is three times further from the truth, and that the poet deceives us with lies. Poetry, according to Plato, is condemned because poets have no concept of truth by their very nature. The phenomenal world is merely a representation of the Supreme's imagined reality, not the actual world. The shadowy and fictitious worldly objects and phenomena are imitated by the poet. Therefore, poetry is "the mother of lies."

In contrast, according to Aristotle, art mimics the "ideal reality" embodied in every object in the world rather than mere displays. Nature's process is a "creative process"; The poet imitates the upward movement of nature everywhere in "nature there is a ceaseless and upward progress" in everything. The original is not what it actually is, but rather what the senses perceive it to be. Art moves through a world of images and reproduces the external in accordance with the concept or image that is in his head. Thus, the poet creates according to his "idea" of the world rather than copying it. As a result, even a well-imitated ugly object can be enjoyed. In "The Poetics," we are told: When reproduced with the utmost precision, things that we find painful to look at in and of themselves make us happy to think about; such as the bodies of dead people and the most despicable animals. 

According to Aristotle, the real and the ideal are not opposites; The ideal is the true, free of chance and accident, and it is a pure form of reality. This higher "reality" is also the subject of poetic imitativeness. By stripping the real of everything that is accidental, temporary, and specific, idealization can be achieved. Poetry, as a result, imitates the universal and ideal; "Under forms manifest in sense," it is an "idealized representation of character, emotion, and action." Therefore, poetic truth is superior to historical truth. Poetry is better for understanding philosophy than philosophy itself. 

As a result, lovers of poetry have used Aristotle's defense of poetry ever since to justify their muse and successfully and ultimately refuted Plato's charge. He demonstrated that poetic imitation is actually a creative process and gave it new life and soul.


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