Accidentalism in Aristotle? Poetics and Ontology

Walter Seitter

My reading of Aristotle’s Poetics focuses on what Aristotle calls the “mythos” of the tragedy. By “mythos” he doesn’t understand the content o f the Greek tragedies: family-related stories of Orestes and Electra, of Oedipus and Antigone … but the precise scenario constructed by the poet, id est the “plot”. And Aristotle postulates that in the plot of a well conceived tragedy the causal role not only of gods, but also of human actors should be reduced. The strong unity of the tragic action (praxis) should result in a close connection of the partial situations, events, turning points. In this sense the substantial agents should be ousted by the “accidents” (Aristotle calls them “pragmata”). Th is artifi cially unified plot should be the “soul” of the tragedy – thus becoming a souled entity, just as a fascinating animal: a new substance.


Keywords: Tragedy · action · plot · agent-causality · event-causality · deus ex machina · networ · artificial animal

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