Plato and Aristotle
Plato and Aristotle have two distinct views on wellness. However, each man’s opinion on wellness is directly tied in to his respective opinions on the idea of imitation as a form of knowledge. Their appreciation or lack thereof for tragedy is in fact directly correlated to their own perspective on wellness and emotion. Firstly, it is important to consider each man’s view of wellness—that is how does each man go about addressing emotional stability. One important consideration is the approach Plato takes in relation to Aristotle. It is this approach that we will see actually mirroring between how they treat emotional well-being and their tolerance for imitation.
In order to understand this hypothesis that each thinker’s handling of wellness is representative of how they handle imitation (and thus, representation), we need to step back and examine how in fact each gentleman approaches the question of emotional stability and happiness. For Plato, as defined in the “Republic”, emotion is to be suppressed. Speaking of poetry, he says: “We’d be right, then to delete the lamentations of famous men” (63). The idea of deletion is exactly what he is after. Taking something quite real, very much a part of the present moment, and with the swipe of an eraser, dimissing it as gone. In poetry, it is called deletion, and the words are no longer on the page. In psychology, it is called repression, and the concepts suggested for deletion are instead relegated to swell in the caverns of one’s mind. Plato speaks of emotion in poetry at other times as something we should “expunge” (61). Again, entrenched in his linguistics is a conscious hat tip to repression, to keeping emotion—be that joy, sadness, despair—out of higher thinking. But to suggest that emotion is editable, that it can be purged is to debase emotion entirely. What becomes clear is not only his opinion that emotion need be repressed in the mind and suppressed from the page, but that this is because emotion gets in the way of true understanding. After all, to ask someone to “expunge” their emotions is to desire a way of thought that is pretty callous, if not simply heartless. The choice of words by Plato is reflective of his view—only he contends that emotions may be expunged or deleted out of situations, like words erased off a page. To ask for a deletion or an expungement—these are not words we think of when someone asks us to discuss our emotional state. People do not often ‘delete’ characteristics of their personality, and when talk about them doing so, we see someone who believes strongly in the idea of repression. Plato’s handling of wellness isn’t very well at all, but it isolates any semblance of emotion and ensures it is not to be found within scholarly work.
Aristotle, on the other hand, believes in a bit more emotional truth—being honest about how one feels and not repressing it. For Aristotle, emotions were to color life, and so too forms of expression, but...