Percezione, "phantasia", "mimēsis" in Aristotele

Xavier Riu


The relationship between phantasia and mimēsis is not clear, and quite often both concepts are translated by the same word, 'representation'. For many centuries the regular translation of mimēsis was 'imitation'. By the 20th century, other words were used to translate this notion, 'representation' being the most frequent. Recently, an understanding of mimēsis as something more like 'production' has started to make headway in the scholarship. In my view, it is much more appropriate to highlight the productive rather than reproductive character of Aristotelian mimēsis, particularly its separation from reality.
It has been observed that phantasia has a role in the processes of perception, of intellection, and of mimēsis. However, this does not mean that it should be confused to any of these. This paper tries to show that phantasia and mimēsis are different things that operate on different levels. Phantasia refers to reality and has a role in the process of perception and in the process of thought; mimēsis is an altogether different process of production that refers to reality in a very different way.

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