Aristotle: The poetics
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If I understand the question correctly, it is asking in what way THE POETICS is a way to understand criticism. Aristotle would not have considered himself a theatre critic as we use the term today - instead, THE POETICS is much in line with the rest of his work, which showed his interest in natural science. Aristotle's philosophy is compiled on systematic observation. He looked at the world and then began to make groups in order to classify and find truth in similarities and differences - the same way a scientist might break up animals into kingdoms. The Poetics is not a "how to" book but rather the sum of his observations into what plays were successful with audiences, and which ones were not. His sense of tragedy is not proscribed but rather indicates his belief of what "works," and he considered Oedipus the best tragedy because it achieved that reaction from its audience. As such, THE POETICS allows us to understand the function of criticism - an intelligent observer's thoughts of what makes good art, based on what qualities all "good" art shares. Much of what he writes continues to be true for the films that are popular even today.