Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005
Galen A. Johnson
From Aristotle’s Poetics to Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis
The Contest Over the Origins of Art
This article explores the question of the cognitivity of the arts. It begins from Kundera’s argument that the novel, originating from Cervantes, offers a response to
Galileo and solution to Husserl’s diagnosis of a “crisis of European sciences.” Expanding to the full range of literary arts, we next undertake a re-reading of Aristotle’s Poetics to assess Aristotle’s views of the origins of tragedy and press for a cognitive interpretation of the meaning of catharsis and emotions. Finally, turning to the abstract expressionism of Barnett Newman, we develop a cognitive interpretation of visual arts and the non-figurative aesthetic of the sublime.