I'm currently reading Leon Lederman's excellent, excellent book: The God Particle. It's a history of particle physics, largely to explain the search for the Higgs Boson particle, which CERN is currently looking for with that big supercollider that has a chance of wiping out the universe (but pretty much won't).
Still reading? Good. This is actually a post about Theater.
Here's what Leon Lederman (Nobel Laureate!) has to say about Aristotle:
When a scientist, say of the British persuasion, is really, really angry at someone and is driven to the extremes of expletives, he will say under his breath, "Bloody Aristotelian." Them's fighting words, and a deadlier insult is hard to imagine. Aristotle is generally credited (probably unreasonably) with holding up the progress of physics for about 2,000 years -- until Galileo had the courage and conviction to call him out... Galileo saved his contempt, not for Aristotle, but for the generations of philosophers who worshiped at Aristotle's temple and accepted his views without question.
I wonder what Lederman would say if he knew that the Aristotelian of tragedy as a catharsis born of empathy is still the core pillar of American theatrical theory? That it formed the center of The Method, and The Method became the center of the American theater? (I bet he'd probably turn up his nose at the idea of any method being called The Method without explicitly dispelling all other methods).
At my university, I was lucky to be exposed to a variety of alternatives to Aristotle: my hero Brecht, my nemeses the post-modern theorists, Antonin Artaud, Grotowski etc.
In the world of particle physics, Lederman holds up the Greek philosopher Democritus as the Ancient Greek father of particle physics; he coined the term 'a-tom' as some building block of the universe too small to be divided. We accidentally attached it to the atom, which unfortunately is cuttable; but nevertheless, Democritus' core insight remains valid.
So, blogosphere and readership: if we threw Aristotle out today (not that I necessarily say that we should) who would you put in his place? Another way of asking is this: what theater theorist would you say hit closest to the truth? What central insight about theater holds true for you?