Mimesis

Mimesis

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Mimesis is a critical
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation
Imitation
Imitation is an advanced behavior whereby an individual observes and replicates another's. The word can be applied in many contexts, ranging from animal training to international politics.-Anthropology and social sciences:...

, representation
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the presentation of the self
Impression management
In sociology and social psychology, impression management is a goal-directed conscious or unconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about a person, object or event; they do so by regulating and controlling information in social interaction...

.

In ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, mimesis was an idea that governed the creation of works of art, in particular, with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty
Beauty
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

, truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 and the good. Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. After Plato, the meaning of mimesis eventually shifted toward a specifically literary function in ancient Greek society, and its use has changed and been re-interpreted many times since then.

One of the best-known modern studies of mimesis, understood as a form of realism in the arts, is Erich Auerbach
Erich Auerbach
Erich Auerbach was a philologist and comparative scholar and critic of literature. His best-known work is Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, a history of representation in Western literature from ancient to modern times.-Biography:Auerbach, who was Jewish, was born in...

's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature is a book of literary criticism by Erich Auerbach, and his most well known work. Written while Auerbach was teaching in Istanbul, Turkey, where he fled after being ousted from his professorship in Romance Philology at the University of...

. Published in 1946 and written while the author was in exile from Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, the book opens with a famous comparison between the way the world is represented in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

and the way it appears in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. From these two seminal Western texts, Auerbach builds the foundation for a unified theory of representation that spans the entire history of Western literature, including the Modernist novels being written at the time Auerbach began his study.

The Frankfurt school
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

 critical theorist T.W. Adorno made use of mimesis as a central philosophical term, interpreting it as a way in which works of art embodied a form of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 that was non-repressive and non-violent.

Mimesis has been theorised by thinkers as diverse as Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

, Theodor Adorno, Erich Auerbach
Erich Auerbach
Erich Auerbach was a philologist and comparative scholar and critic of literature. His best-known work is Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, a history of representation in Western literature from ancient to modern times.-Biography:Auerbach, who was Jewish, was born in...

, Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One .-Biography:...

, René Girard
René Girard
René Girard is a French historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science. His work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy...

, Nikolas Kompridis
Nikolas Kompridis
Nikolas Kompridis is a professor at the Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney. His scholarly work addresses a wide range of subjects in contemporary social and political philosophy, as well as in aesthetics and philosophy of culture...

, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe was a French philosopher. He was also a literary critic and translator....

, Michael Taussig
Michael Taussig
Michael Taussig earned a medical degree from the University of Sydney, received his PhD. in anthropology from the London School of Economics and is a professor at Columbia University and European Graduate School...

, Merlin Donald
Merlin Donald
Merlin Wilfred Donald is a Canadian psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist, and a researcher, educator, and author in the corresponding fields.-Biography:...

, and Homi Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has coined a number of the field's neologisms and...

.

Plato


Both Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 saw in mimesis the representation
Representation (arts)
Representation is the use of signs that stand in for and take the place of something else. It is through representation that people organize the world and reality through the act of naming its elements...

 of nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

. Plato wrote about mimesis in both Ion
Ion (dialogue)
In Plato's Ion Socrates discusses with Ion, a professional rhapsode who also lectures on Homer, the question of whether the rhapsode, a performer of poetry, gives his performance on account of his skill and knowledge or by virtue of divine possession...

and The Republic
Republic (Plato)
The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man...

(Books II, III and X). In Ion, he states that poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

 is the art of divine madness, or inspiration. Because the poet is subject to this divine madness, it is not his/her function to convey the truth. As Plato has it, truth is the concern of the philosopher only. As culture in those days did not consist in the solitary reading of books, but in the listening to performances, the recitals of orators (and poets), or the acting out by classical actors of tragedy, Plato maintained in his critique that theatre was not sufficient in conveying the truth. He was concerned that actors or orators were thus able to persuade an audience by rhetoric rather than by telling the truth.

In Book II of The Republic, Plato describes Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

' dialogue with his pupils. Socrates warns we should not seriously regard poetry as being capable of attaining the truth and that we who listen to poetry should be on our guard against its seductions, since the poet has no place in our idea of God.

In developing this in Book X, Plato tells of Socrates' metaphor of the three beds: one bed exists as an idea made by God (the Platonic ideal); one is made by the carpenter, in imitation of God's idea; one is made by the artist in imitation of the carpenter's.

So the artist's bed is twice removed from the truth. The copiers only touch on a small part of things as they really are, where a bed may appear differently from various points of view, looked at obliquely or directly, or differently again in a mirror. So painters or poets, though they may paint or describe a carpenter or any other maker of things, know nothing of the carpenter's (the craftsman's) art, and though the better painters or poets they are, the more faithfully their works of art will resemble the reality of the carpenter making a bed, nonetheless the imitators will still not attain the truth (of God's creation).

The poets, beginning with Homer, far from improving and educating humanity, do not possess the knowledge of craftsmen and are mere imitators who copy again and again images of virtue and rhapsodise about them, but never reach the truth in the way the superior philosophers do.

Aristotle



Similar to Plato's writings about mimesis, Aristotle also defined mimesis as the perfection and imitation of nature. Art is not only imitation but also the use of mathematical ideas and symmetry in the search for the perfect, the timeless, and contrasting being with becoming. Nature is full of change, decay, and cycles, but art can also search for what is everlasting and the first causes of natural phenomena. Aristotle wrote about the idea of four causes
Four causes
Four Causes refers to a principle in Aristotelian science that is used to understand change. Aristotle described four different types of causes, or ways in which an object could be explained: "we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause", He argued...

 in nature. The first formal cause is like a blueprint, or an immortal idea. The second cause is the material, or what a thing is made out of. The third cause is the process and the agent, in which the artist or creator makes the thing. The fourth cause is the good, or the purpose and end of a thing, known as telos
Telos (philosophy)
A telos is an end or purpose, in a fairly constrained sense used by philosophers such as Aristotle. It is the root of the term "teleology," roughly the study of purposiveness, or the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes, or intentions. Teleology figures centrally in Aristotle's...

.

Aristotle's Poetics is often referred to as the counterpart to this Platonic conception of poetry. Poetics is his treatise on the subject of mimesis. Aristotle was not against literature as such; he stated that human beings are mimetic beings, feeling an urge to create texts (art) that reflect and represent reality.

Aristotle considered it important that there be a certain distance between the work of art on the one hand and life on the other; we draw knowledge and consolation from tragedies only because they do not happen to us. Without this distance, tragedy could not give rise to catharsis. However, it is equally important that the text causes the audience to identify with the characters and the events in the text, and unless this identification occurs, it does not touch us as an audience. Aristotle holds that it is through "simulated representation", mimesis, that we respond to the acting on the stage which is conveying to us what the characters feel, so that we may empathise with them in this way through the mimetic form of dramatic roleplay. It is the task of the dramatist to produce the tragic enactment in order to accomplish this empathy by means of what is taking place on stage.

In short, catharsis can only be achieved if we see something that is both recognisable and distant. Aristotle argued that literature is more interesting as a means of learning than history, because history deals with specific facts that have happened, and which are contingent, whereas literature, although sometimes based on history, deals with events that could have taken place or ought to have taken place.

Aristotle thought of drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 as being "an imitation of an action" and of tragedy
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

 as "falling from a higher to a lower estate" and so being removed to a less ideal situation in more tragic circumstances than before. He posited the characters
Fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 in tragedy as being better than the average human being, and those of comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 as being worse.

Michael Davis, a translator and commentator of Aristotle writes:

Contrast to diegesis


It was also Plato and Aristotle who contrasted mimesis with diegesis
Diegesis
Diegesis is a style of representation in fiction and is:# the world in which the situations and events narrated occur; and# telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.In diegesis the narrator tells the story...

 (Greek διήγησις). Mimesis shows, rather than tells, by means of directly represented action that is enacted. Diegesis, however, is the telling of the story
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 by a narrator
Narrator
A narrator is, within any story , the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for...

; the author narrates action indirectly and describes what is in the characters' minds and emotions. The narrator may speak as a particular character or may be the invisible narrator or even the all-knowing narrator who speaks from above in the form of commenting on the action or the characters.

In Book III of his Republic (c. 373 BCE), Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 examines the style of poetry (the term includes comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

, tragedy
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

, epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 and lyric poetry
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

): All types narrate events, he argues, but by differing means. He distinguishes between narration or report (diegesis) and imitation or representation (mimesis). Tragedy and comedy, he goes on to explain, are wholly imitative types; the dithyramb
Dithyramb
The dithyramb was an ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility; the term was also used as an epithet of the god: Plato, in The Laws, while discussing various kinds of music mentions "the birth of Dionysos, called, I think, the dithyramb." Plato also...

 is wholly narrative; and their combination is found in epic poetry
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

. When reporting or narrating, "the poet is speaking in his own person; he never leads us to suppose that he is any one else"; when imitating, the poet produces an "assimilation of himself to another, either by the use of voice or gesture". In dramatic texts, the poet never speaks directly; in narrative texts, the poet speaks as himself or herself.

In his Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle argues that kinds of poetry (the term includes drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, and lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

 music for Aristotle) may be differentiated in three ways: according to their medium, according to their objects, and according to their mode or manner (section I); "For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration—in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged—or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us" (section III).

Though they conceive of mimesis in quite different ways, its relation with diegesis is identical in Plato's and Aristotle's formulations; one represents, the other reports; one embodies, the other narrates; one transforms, the other indicates; one knows only a continuous present, the other looks back on a past.

In ludology, mimesis is sometimes used to refer to the self-consistency of a represented world, and the availability of in-game
Game
A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements...

 rationalisations for elements of the gameplay. In this context, mimesis has an associated grade: highly self-consistent worlds that provide explanations for their puzzles and game mechanics are said to display a higher degree of mimesis. This usage can be traced back to the essay "Crimes Against Mimesis".

Dionysian imitatio



Dionysian imitatio is the influential literary method of imitation as formulated by Greek author Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His literary style was Attistic — imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime.-Life:...

 in the 1st century BCE, which conceived it as technique of rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

: emulating, adaptating, reworking and enriching a source text by an earlier author.

Dionysius' concept marked a significant depart from the concept of mimesis
Mimesis
Mimesis , from μιμεῖσθαι , "to imitate," from μῖμος , "imitator, actor") is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the...

formulated by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's in the 4th century BCE, which was only concerned with "imitation of nature" instead of the "imitation of other authors". Latin orators and rhetoricians adopted the literary method of Dionysius' imitatio and discarded Aristotle's mimesis.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Mimesis, or imitation, as he referred to it, was a crucial concept for Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

's theory of the imagination. Coleridge begins his thoughts on imitation and poetry from Plato, Aristotle and Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, adopting their concept of imitation of nature instead of other writers. His significant departure from the earlier thinkers lies in his arguing that art does not reveal a unity of essence through its ability to achieve sameness with nature. Coleridge claims:
Here, Coleridge opposes imitation to copying, the latter referring to William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

's notion that poetry should duplicate nature by capturing actual speech. Coleridge instead argues that the unity of essence is revealed precisely through different materialities and media. Imitation, therefore, reveals the sameness of processes in nature.

Luce Irigaray


The Belgian feminist Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One .-Biography:...

 used the term to describe a form of resistance where women imperfectly imitate stereotypes about themselves so as to show up these stereotypes and undermine them.

Michael Taussig



In Mimesis and Alterity (1993), the anthropologist Michael Taussig
Michael Taussig
Michael Taussig earned a medical degree from the University of Sydney, received his PhD. in anthropology from the London School of Economics and is a professor at Columbia University and European Graduate School...

 examines the way that people from one culture adopt another's nature and culture (the process of mimesis) at the same time as distancing themselves from it (the process of alterity
Alterity
Alterity is a philosophical term meaning "otherness", strictly being in the sense of the other of two . In the phenomenological tradition it is usually understood as the entity in contrast to which an identity is constructed, and it implies the ability to distinguish between self and not-self, and...

). He describes how a legendary tribe, the "white Indians", or Cuna
Kuna (people)
Kuna or Cuna is the name of an indigenous people of Panama and Colombia. The spelling Kuna is currently preferred. In the Kuna language, the name is Dule or Tule, meaning "people," and the name of the language in Kuna is Dulegaya, meaning "Kuna language" - Location :The Kuna live in three...

, have adopted in various representations figures and images reminiscent of the white people they encountered in the past (without acknowledging doing so).

Taussig, however, criticises anthropology for reducing yet another culture, that of the Cuna, for having been so impressed by their exotic (and superior) technologies of the whites, that they raised them to the status of gods. To Taussig, this reductionism is suspect, and he argues thus from both sides in his Mimesis and Alterity to see values in the anthropologists' perspective, at the same time as defending the independence of a lived culture from anthropological reductionism. (Taussig 1993:47,48)

Salvador Minuchin


Salvador Minuchin developed Structural Family Therapy (SFT) in the 1960s. One of Minuchin's SFT techniques is the process of "joining" that occurs between the therapist and the family. Mimesis is one of four ways to accomplish joining with a family. Mimesis is becoming like the family in the manner or content of their communications, adjusting behavioral style to fit that of the family. The therapist does this by using similar interpersonal styles and language as the family, such as joking with a jovial family or using the same metaphors that family members use. (Snow, Crethar, Robey, and Carlson 2005: 137–40).

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