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PLATO S GREATER HIPPIAS AND ARISTOTLE S POETICS Hippias of Elis travels throughout the Greek world practicing and teaching the art of making beautiful speeches. On a rare visit to Athens, he meets Socrates who questions him about the nature of his art. Socrates is curious about how Hippias would define beauty. They agree that beauty makes all beautiful things beautiful, but when Socrates presses him to say precisely what he means, Hippias is unable to deliver such a definition. The more Socrates probes, the more absurd the responses from Hippias become. This is one of Plato s best comedies and one of his finest efforts at examining the difference between particular things and universals. Aristotle s Poetics is known for its definition and analysis of tragedy, but it also applies to truth and beauty as they are manifested in the other arts. In our age when the natural and social sciences have dominated the quest for truth, it is helpful to consider why Aristotle claimed that poetry is more philosophical and more significant than history. In this postmodern era when the arts have been separated from ethics, it is worthwhile to consider Aristotle s way of connecting goodness and beauty.
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