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June 30, 2016 - July 1, 2016
Intersections of Aesthetics and Anthropology
Symposium of the Munich Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts MIMESIS
30 June and 1 July 2016
The difference between man and animal plays a crucial role in Western philosophy. As early as in Aristotle’s Poetics, this distinction is bound up with issues of mimesis. Aristotle considers mimesis as a property that distinguishes man from other animals, but also defines the human susceptibility to imitation as the basis of the production of art. Ever since, anthropological and aesthetic concepts have tended to overlap when it comes to mimesis. In the tradition of philosophy and aesthetics, however, thinkers have alternated in attributing mimesis to humans and animals. Instead of being an intellectual capacity in the Aristotelian sense, mimetic processes can also be conceptualized as mere reproduction. This ‘low’ kind of mimesis has often been compared to imitative animal behavior. Covering such aspects as animals as metaphors of imitation as well as the subversive potential of animal mimesis, this conference will explore the outstanding, yet often unrecognized importance of the theory of mimesis for the dynamic field of Human-Animal Studies, and vice versa.