Les Etudes Philosophiques 67 (4):499-517 (2003)

Authors
Stephen Halliwell
University of St. Andrews
Abstract
Résumé — Cet article défend une interprétation de la catharsis qui intègre la psychologie, l’éthique et l’esthétique. Un réexamen attentif de la référence à la catharsis musicopoétique en Politique VIIImontre que, contrairement à l’opinion reçue, la catharsis n’est pas ici séparée de la conception aristotélicienne de l’importance éthique des réactions émotionnelles face aux formes d’art mimétique . Politique VIII donne également une raison de supposer que la catharsis est associée au plaisir, mais pas identifiée à lui. La catharsis tragique se comprend mieux comme un profit retiré de la transformation des émotions pénibles en émotions agréables dans la contemplation de l’art mimétique. Cette lecture permet d’harmoniser catharsis et psychologie morale d’Aristote dans son ensemble : une réactivité émotionnelle intense aux objets esthétiques peut contribuer à l’entraînement approprié de dispositions éthiques. La catharsis n’est pas seulement le résultat final du spectacle de la tragédie ; elle vient couronner une expérience tout entière, à la fois cognitive et morale.— This paper argues for an interpretation of catharsis that integrates psychology, ethics and aesthetics. A careful reexamination of the reference to musico-poetic catharsis in Politics 8 shows that, contrary to received opinion, catharsis is not there divorced from Aristotle’s view of the ethical significance of emotional responses to mimetic art-forms. Politics 8 also supplies reason to suppose that catharsis is closely associated with, but not identical to, pleasure. Tragic catharsis is best understood as the benefit accruing from the transformation of painful into pleasurable emotions within the contemplation of mimetic art. This reading allows catharsis to be harmonised with Aristotle’s moral psychology as a whole : intense emotional responsiveness to « aesthetic » objects can contribute to the appropriate exercise of ethically attuned dispositions. Catharsis is not just the end-result of watching a tragedy ; it supervenes on the entire cognitive-cum-emotional experience
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DOI 10.3917/leph.034.0499
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