A Critique of Mimesis


Following an inspiration offered by Gebauer and Wulf’s Mimesis, in this contribution we put forward the hypothesis that mimesis should be understood as an intermediary device and a categorizing faculty at play in all our functions and namely in our judging power. To argue this claim, we analyse the notion of schema in Kant’s first Critique and find that, as product of mimesis qua imagination, schemata intermediate sensibility and intellect and allow reason to issue good judgements and steer clear from metaphysical self-referential ones. Showing what very special theatrical feature Kant’s Critique shares with the Bible, we then analyse the function of figura in traditional Biblical hermeneutics and find that here again a product of imagination is needed as mediator to keep mimesis and self-referential mechanisms in check in order to prevent them from issuing satanic judgements. Playing along with the metaphorical setting that has come to the fore, we find in Plato’s Timaeus a third case in which mimesis is set to play an intermediary role in a judicial account of categorization. By confronting and interweaving the insights gathered from these most relevant references, we claim that mimesis names a «technical procedure of schematization».

Keywords: Kant, Plato, Bible, schema, figura, judgement, demiurge

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