Visiting Fellow, Fall 2018
Pierre Destrée is an Associate Research Fellow at the FNRS (Fonds National belge de la Recherche Scientifique) and an Associate Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain, where he teaches ancient philosophy. His main areas of research are Plato's and Aristotle's ethics and politics, as well as their aesthetics; he has also had a longstanding interest in laughter and the usages of humor in ancient philosophy. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, mostly on presocratics, Plato and Aristotle. He has co-edited a dozen of books, most recently: (With M. Deslauriers), The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Politics, Cambridge UP, 2013; (With P. Murray) The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Aesthetics, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015; (With Z. Giannopoulou) Plato: Symposium - A Critical Guide, Cambridge UP, 2017; (With R. Edmonds) Plato and the Power of Images, Brill (Series: MNEMOSYNE Supplements), 2017; (With F. Trivigno) Laughter, Humor and Comedy in Ancient Philosophy, Oxford UP (forthcoming 2018).
As a Fellow at the Seeger Center, Pierre Destrée will focus on Aristotle's philosophy of art. His aim is to achieve a monograph, tentatively entitled ‘Aristotle on the Power of Art. A Study of the Poetics’. This book focusses on two main issues. One is the effect, or what Aristotle calls the ‘power’ (dunamis) of art (and by art, I mean poetry, but also music which Aristotle examines in his Politics). Most interpreters have contended that the aim of art, according to Aristotle, would be either purely intellectual, or of ethical relevance. I claim that emotional pleasure is what constitutes the aim of art, and that the Poetics can be read as an explanation as to how poets would best achieve that effect. Second main issue is the value of art. It is standardly claimed that the ancient Greeks did not value art very much, lacking even a concept of art, and aesthetics. I contend that in fact, Aristotle considered (what we call) aesthetics as part and parcel of true human happiness.