David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Phronesis 44 (3):181 - 198 (1999)
Against the consensus that Aristotle in the "Poetics" sets out to give tragedy a role in exercising or improving the mature citizen's moral sensibilities, I argue that his aim is rather to analyse what makes a work of literature successful in its own terms, and in particular how a tragic drama can achieve the effect of suspense. The proper pleasure of tragedy is produced by the plotting and eventual dispelling of the play's suspense. Aristotle claims that poetry 'says what is universal' not in order to suggest that poetry achieves anything of the effect of philosophy, but to explain how in creating his plots the poet takes into consideration what, in general, could be expected to happen. Chapter 4 of the "Poetics" is not a theory of mimesis but an analysis of the lowest common denominator of the pleasure we take in fictions. The inevitability or likelihood by which events in the tragic plot are to be connected has an aesthetic rather than a moral function. Doing away with the irrationality of chance and increasing the human intelligibility of the action is not its point; the point is to furnish the plot with the second half of the formula for successful suspense: that events in the plot should happen 'against expectation because of one another'. The first half of the formula is examined under the rubric of peripety or reversal. The formula as a whole describes the pivotal moment when the pieces of the plot suddenly fit with a configuration that only in retrospect can we see to have been falling into place all along. Pity and fear are the emotions on which Aristotle focusses because they are the emotions engaged by the tightening-towards-release of literary suspense. And the pleasure of catharsis is the pleasure of that release
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Gerd Van Riel (1999). Does a Perfect Activity Necessarily Yield Pleasure? An Evaluation of the Relation Between Pleasure and Activity in Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics VII and X. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 7 (2):211 – 224.
Aaron Smuts (2008). The Desire-Frustration Theory of Suspense. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (3):281-291.
Christy Mag Uidhir (2011). The Paradox of Suspense Realism. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (2):161-171.
Isabella Wheater (2004). Literature and Philosophy: Emotion and Knowledge? Philosophy 79 (2):215-245.
Dana LaCourse Munteanu (2012). Tragic Pathos: Pity and Fear in Greek Philosophy and Tragedy. Cambridge University Press.
J. M. Armstrong (1998). Aristotle on the Philosophical Nature of Poetry. Classical Quarterly 48 (2):447-455.
Elisa Galgut (2001). The Poetry and the Pity: Hume's Account of Tragic Pleasure. British Journal of Aesthetics 41 (4):411-424.
Ryan Drake (2010). Wonder, Nature, and the Ends of Tragedy. International Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):77-91.
Ferrari (1999). Aristotle's Literary Aesthetics. Phronesis 44 (3):181-198.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads36 ( #46,748 of 1,098,400 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #42,765 of 1,098,400 )
How can I increase my downloads?