Aristotle’s Understanding of ArtJune 26, 2021
Plato used the myth of “Prometheus” to explain the origin of art. Legend has it that the Gods equipped animals in various ways to protect themselves from the cold, defend themselves against their enemies, and find food during the creation of the universe. However, during this first distribution, man was forgotten.
Having pity on the naked and defenseless man, Prometheus stole fire from the heavens, the art of weaving from Athena, and the art of weaving from Hephasus and gave it to man. This Greek myth tells that art came into the world as resources and skills to meet the first needs of man against bare nature. In other words, the origin of art means the things that people add to nature by using their minds in order to be successful in the war to survive.
Aristotle, on the other hand, considers the origin of art not as Prometheus, but as the human hand. While explaining the birth of crafts, he denies Plato’s story about Prometheus and says that those who see man as naked and defenseless and see him as inferior to other living things are very wrong.
According to Aristotle, the real inferior is the wild animals. For they have only one weapon, whereas man has hands for making other tools. Man is the most perfect child of nature. Nature has given him the ‘hand’ from which he found the crafts. Therefore, according to Aristotle, craftsmanship begins with a skill combined with the instinct of imitation. Man emulates the ways of nature (mimesis). Art is to complete what nature has begun by the hand of man. This completion is achieved by emulation.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM)