Aristotle's homo mimeticus as an Educational Paradigm for Human Coexistence
mimesis, Aristotle, philosophy of education, education, pedegogy of expression
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AbstractIn the Poetics of Aristotle there is a definition of the human being that perhaps has not yet been well considered in educational theory and practice. This definition calls into question a dynamism that according to Plato was unavoidable for an appropriate understanding of the educational process that turns a human being into a beautiful, good and just citizen: mimesis. The paper's intent is to reconsider the definition of the human being, centred on mimesis, presented by Aristotle in the Poetics (4. 1448 b5–9) to demonstrate if, and how, it might establish new paradigms for human coexistence. Aristotle's anthropological statement is included in a much wider discourse concerning philosophy of art; but if isolated from the context, it is an essential definition of human beings that can be synthesised as follows: human beings are the mimetic animal par excellence, and their process of understanding (that distinguishes them from other animals) has a fundamental connection with such excellence. Ignorance and/or negligence of how relevant mimesis might be in the educational process may have decisively contributed to separate human beings from this core aspect of their humanity and therefore produced painful consequences in human coexistence. As long as education does not pay attention to the pedagogical implications of the definition taken from the Poetics, how can human flourishing be safeguarded?. I argue that recognition of the centrality of mimesis in the educational process allows human edification to proceed devoid of ideological basis, be it secular or confessional; and overcomes the risk of relativism. Mimesis, formerly recognised by Plato as a link between what is expressed and what really is, is masterfully reinterpreted by Aristotle. Aristotle recognised its positive pedagogic value in the Poetics, and nowadays we can recognise how it offers existential dynamics that restore the vital human relationship between self and other (be it another human or other than a human being). The sense of this proposal lies in giving mimesis the role it deserves in education, by raising the significance of how coexistence might benefit from a vast human dimension, capable of recognising our humanity beyond our rational capacity.