Ontology and the Art of Tragedy

An Approach to Aristotle's Poetics

By Martha Husain

Subjects: Classics
Series: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791451441, 162 pages, November 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451434, 162 pages, November 2001

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Table of contents


1. Approach to the Corpus as a Whole

1.1 The Systematic, the Chronological, the Aporetic Approach
1.2 The Pervasive Substantive-Methodological Conceptual Constants


1.2.1 The Concept of Being
1.2.2 The Categories of Being
1.2.3 The Categorial Priority of Ousia
1.2.4 Immanent Causal Form-Matter Constitution in the Category of Ousia
1.2.5 The Ontological and Cognitive Priority of the Object


2. Approach To The Poetics

2.1 The Poetics As A Special Science
2.2 Techne-Physis (Mimesis 1)
2.3 Artistic Techne (Mimesis 2)
2.4 Poetical Techne, Tragic Techne
2.5 Tragedy as an Ousia

3. Levels within the Poetics

3.1 The First Level: Being


3.1.1 The Concept of Being
3.1.2 The Categories of Being
3.1.3 The Categorial Priority of Ousia
3.1.4 Immanent Causal Form-Matter Constitution in the Category of Ousia
3.1.5 The Ontological and Cognitive Priority of the Object


3.2 The Second and Third Levels: Mimesis 1 and Mimesis 2
3.3 The Aporia of Mimesis and Aristotle’s Solution


3.3.1 Liberties Art May Not Take
3.3.2 Liberties Art May Take
3.3.3 Liberties Art Must Take


4. Agent-Centering, Patient-Centering, Object-Centering

4.1 Agent-Centering and Object-Centering


4.1.1 Agent-Centering
4.1.2 Object-Centering
4.1.3 Comparison of Ethical and Tragic Action


4.2 Patient-Centering and Object-Centering


4.2.1 Patient-Centering
4.2.2 Comparison of Rhetorical and Tragic Action


Appendix: Textual Evidence
Index of Names
Subject Index
Index of Passages Cited

Argues for a reading of the Poetics in light of the Metaphysics.


Ontology and the Art of Tragedy is a sustained reflection on the principles and criteria from which to guide one's approach to Aristotle's Poetics. Its scope is twofold: historical and systematic. In its historical aspect it develops an approach to Aristotle's Poetics, which brings his distinctive philosophy of being to bear on the reception of this text. In its systematic aspect it relates Aristotle's theory of art to the perennial desiderata of any theory of art, and particularly to Kandinsky's.

Martha Husain is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brock University.


"Husain shows us how the Poetics fits into Aristotle's philosophy considered as a systematic whole. In the process she offers persuasive new solutions to problems that have long plagued students of this extraordinarily difficult book. This is a work that everyone interested in Aristotle or in the philosophy of art will have to read and digest." — C. D. C. Reeve, author of Substantial Knowledge: Aristotle's Metaphysics

"Original and well-argued, Husain's book is a direct challenge to the growing and influential socio-political interpretation of the significance of the art of tragedy." — John P. Anton, author of Categories and Experience: Essays on Aristotelian Themes