Volume 25, Issue 2, Autumn 2020
From “catharsis in the text” to “catharsis of the text.”
“A Marginal Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics” by Roman Ingarden in the (critical) light of mimetic theory
Roman Ingarden (1893–1970) was a prominent Polish philosopher, phenomenologist, and student of Edmund Husserl. A characteristic feature of his works was the almost complete absence of analyzes from the history of philosophy. That is why it is so surprising that right after the end of World War II, the first text analyzed when Ingarden started working at the Jagiellonian University was Aristotle’s “Poetics.” Ingarden published the results of his research in Polish in 1948 in “Kwartalnik Filozoficzny” and in the early 1960s his essay was translated and published in the renowned American magazine “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism” as “A Marginal Commentary on Aristotle’s Poetics.”
As far as I know today, this text does not arouse much interest among the many commentators and followers of Ingarden’s philosophy. Perhaps this state of affairs is justified: Ingarden’s own ideas are only repeated here, and their usefulness in the meaning of “Poetics” remains far from obvious. However, I think that this relative obscurity is worth considering now, because it shows how modern reason tries to control ancient concepts. The main purpose of this article is therefore to reconstruct the strategy by which philosophy tames the text of “Poetics,” especially its concepts such as catharsis and mimesis. The discovery and presentation of these treatments would not have been possible were it not for the mimetic theory of René Girad, which provides anthropological foundations for a critique of philosophical discourse.