Ambivalence of the Notion of “Mimesis”: Between the Opening towards the Other and the Repetition of the Same

Antonio Valentini


One of the main characteristics of the contemporary aesthetic debate is the recovery of the concept of mimesis, as a dimension that is originally involved in the foundation of human culture and the processes of cultural learning. This is evident in the aesthetic reflection developed by Gunter Gebauer and Christoph Wulf. For these two authors, mimesis is never a mere reproduction of the given reality, but always implies the production of the New, of the Other, of the different with respect to the empirical world, i.e. to the existing categorical order of the world. In particular, Gebauer and Wulf underline the constitutive ambivalence of the notion of mimesis: on the one hand, it favors the processes of reification fueled by capitalist society and, on the other hand, it contributes to the affirmation of a critical and “utopian” instance that can counter “instrumental reason” and the primacy of identity.


mimesis; identity; otherness; work of art; critical-utopian function

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