Two assumptions are common in discussions of the paradox of tragedy: (1) that tragic pleasure requires that the work be fictional or, if non-fiction, then non-transparently represented; and (2) that tragic pleasure may be provoked by a wide variety of art forms. In opposition to (1) I argue that certain documentaries could produce tragic pleasure. This is not to say that any sad or painful documentary could do so. In considering which documentaries might be plausible candidates, I further argue, (...) against (2), that the scope of tragic pleasure is limited to works that possess certain thematic and narrative features. (shrink)
Game theorists tend to model climate negotiations as a so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’. This is rather worrisome, since the conditions under which such commons problems have historically been solved are almost entirely absent in the case of international greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, I will argue that the predictive accuracy of the tragedy model might not stem from the model’s inherent match with reality but rather from the model’s ability to make self-fulfilling predictions. I then sketch (...) some possible ways to dispel the tragedy, including (1) recognizing some ways the assumptions of the model fail, (2) taking seriously recent work suggesting that increasing greenhouse gas emissions is not in most nations’ own self-interest, and (3) preferring alternative models like collective risk dilemmas, bargaining games, or cooperative models. (shrink)
In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche expounds on the origins of Greek tragedy and its relevance to the German culture of its time. He declares it to be the expression of a culture which has achieved a delicate but powerful balance between Dionysian insight into the chaos and suffering which underlies all existence and the discipline and clarity of rational Apollonian form. In order to promote a return to these values, Nietzsche critiques the complacent rationalism of late nineteenth-century (...) German culture and makes an impassioned plea for the regenerative potential of the music of Wagner. A wide ranging discussion of the nature of art, science, and religion, The Birth of Tragedy's argument raises important questions about the problematic nature of cultural origins which are still valid today. (shrink)
I ARGUE THAT WE RECEIVE PLEASURE FROM TRAGEDIES BECAUSE WE ARE PLEASED TO FIND OURSELVES RESPONDING IN AN UNPLEASANT WAY TO HUMAN SUFFERING AND INJUSTICE. THE PLEASURE IS THUS A METARESPONSE, AND REFLECTS FEELINGS WHICH ARE AT THE BASIS OF MORALITY. THIS HELPS EXPLAIN WHY TRAGEDY IS SUPPOSED TO BE A HIGHER ART FORM THAN COMEDY, AND PROVIDES A NEW WAY OF SEEING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MORALITY OF AN ARTWORK AND ITS VALUE.
How were the Greeks of the sixth century BC able to invent philosophy and tragedy? In this book Richard Seaford argues that a large part of the answer can be found in another momentous development, the invention and rapid spread of coinage which produced the first ever thoroughly monetised society. By transforming social relations, monetisation contributed to the ideas of the universe as an impersonal system and of the individual alienated from his own kin and from the gods. Seaford (...) argues that an important precondition for this monetisation was the Greek practice of animal sacrifice, as represented in Homeric Epic, which describes a premonetary world on the point of producing money. This book combines social history, economic anthropology, numismatics and the close reading of literary, inscriptional, and philosophical texts. Questioning the origins and shaping force of Greek philosophy, this is a major book with wide appeal. (shrink)
This is a major study of conceptions of selfhood and personality in Homer and Greek Tragedy and Philosophy. The focus is on the norms of personality in Greek psychology and ethics. Gill argues that the key to understanding Greek thought of this type is to counteract the subjective and individualistic aspects of our own thinking about the person. He defines an "objective-participant" conception of personality, symbolized by the idea of the person as an interlocutor in a series of psychological (...) and ethical dialogues. (shrink)
Information plays a major role in any moral action. ICT have revolutionized the life of information, from its production and management to its consumption, thus deeply affecting our moral lives. Amid the many issues they have raised, a very serious one, discussed in this paper, is labelled the tragedy of the Good Will. This is represented by the increasing pressure that ICT and their deluge of information are putting on any agent who would like to act morally, when informed (...) about actual or potential evils, but who also lacks the resources to do much about them. In the paper, it is argued that the tragedy may be at least mitigated, if not solved, by seeking to re-establish some equilibrium, through ICT themselves, between what agents know about the world and what they can do to improve it. (shrink)
In his early and unpublished essay on Schiller’s trilogy Wallenstein, Hegel criticizes the plays’ denouement as “horrific” and “appalling” and for depicting the triumph of death over life. Why was the young Hegel’s response to Wallenstein so negative? To answer this question, I first offer an analysis of Wallenstein in terms of Hegel’s mature theory of modern tragedy. I argue that Schiller’s portrayal of Wallenstein’s character and death indeed render the play a particularly dark and unredemptive example of modern (...)tragedy as Hegel understands it. I suggest, however, that Hegel’s early objections are primarily motivated by his philosophy of history rather than by his theory of tragedy. Hegel accurately sensed the loss of faith in historical progress that Schiller experienced in the wake of the French Revolution; in essays written shortly before Wallenstein appeared, Schiller associates the tragic sublime with humans’ ability to act in the face of the meaninglessness of history. In his essay “The German Constitution,” composed during the same period as his Wallenstein review, Hegel instead formulates his familiar exhortation that we see history as meaningful. Hegel’s objection to Wallenstein’s darkness, then, is primarily an objection to the vision of history it portrays. Against the background of Peter Stein’s 2007 Berlin production of Wallenstein, I suggest that Wallenstein’s lasting appeal lies in its ability to allow audiences to experience the sublime as Schiller intended: as an assertion of our agency despite the cycles of history we so little control. (shrink)
The paper explores the way in which we can make sense of the seemingly contradictory presentations of God and the gods in tragic literature by looking to the thought of Martin Heidegger. The duplicity of the gods in tragedy is found to be a function of the uncertainty and questionworthiness of being.
I argue that the tragedies envisioned by the Symposium are two, both of which are introduced in the dialogue: (i) within months of Agathon's victory, half the characters who celebrated with him suffer death or exile on charges of impiety; (ii) Socrates is executed weeks after the dramatic date of the frame. Thus the most defensible notion of tragedy across Plato's dialogues is a fundamentally epistemological one: if we do not know the good, we increase our risk of making (...) mistakes and of suffering what are sometimes their catastrophic consequences. (shrink)
The trajectory of Paul Ricoeur’s thought from the fallible to the capable human person offers a hopeful vision of human nature constitutive of our shared political life. Yet, by necessity, hope arises in response to the tragic, which also features in Ricoeur’s work at the existential and ethical levels. At the same time hope and tragedy represent concepts at the limit of philosophical reasoning, introducing meeting points with religious discourse. Exploring those meeting points reveals the contribution of religious thinking (...) to the understanding of hope and tragedy and establishes Ricoeur’s political thinking as ultimately shaped by their interplay. (shrink)
In the paper it is argued that bridging the digital divide may cause a new ethical and social dilemma. Using Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons, we show that an improper opening and enlargement of the digital environment (Infosphere) is likely to produce a Tragedy of the Digital Commons (TDC). In the course of the analysis, we explain why Adar and Huberman's previous use of Hardin's Tragedy to interpret certain recent phenomena in the Infosphere (especially peer-to-peer communication) may (...) not be entirely satisfactory. We then seek to provide an improved version of the TDC that avoids the possible shortcomings of their model. Next, we analyse some problems encountered by the application of classical ethics in the resolution of the TDC. In the conclusion, we outline the kind of work that will be required to develop an ethical approach that may bridge the digital divide but avoid the TDC. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Views about Pity and Fear as Aesthetic Emotions: 1. Drama and the emotions: an Indo-European connection? 2. Gorgias: a strange trio, the poetic emotions; 3. Plato: from reality to tragedy and back; 4. Aristotle: the first 'theorist' of the aesthetic emotions; Part II. Pity and Fear within Tragedies: 5. An introduction; 6. Aeschylus: Persians; 7. Prometheus Bound; 8. Sophocles: Ajax; 9. Euripides: Orestes; Appendix: catharsis and the emotions in the definition of (...)tragedy in the Poetics. (shrink)
We offer a new answer to the paradox of tragedy. We explain part of the appeal of tragic art in terms of its acknowledgement of sad aspects of life and offer a tentative explanation of why acknowledgement is a source of pleasure.
Boldly contesting recent scholarship, Sallis argues that The Birth of Tragedy is a rethinking of art at the limit of metaphysics. His close reading focuses on the complexity of the Apollinian/Dionysian dyad and on the crossing of these basic art impulses in tragedy. "Sallis effectively calls into question some commonly accepted and simplistic ideas about Nietzsche's early thinking and its debt to Schopenhauer, and proposes alternatives that are worth considering."--Richard Schacht, Times Literary Supplement.
The Tragedy of the Commons is often associated with an n-person Prisoner’s Dilemma. But it can also have the structure of an n-person Game of Chicken, an Assurance Game, or of a Voting Games (or a Three-in-a-Boat Game). I present three historical stories that document tragedies of the commons, as presented in Aristotle, Mahanarayan and Hume and argue that the descriptions of these historical cases align better with Voting Games than with any other games.
Philip Roth’s novel 'The Human Stain' recounts an instance of racial passing: its protagonist, Coleman Silk, is African-American but light-skinned enough to pass as white. Coleman’s decision to pass and his subsequent violent death, I argue, confront us with complex ethical questions regarding unjust social roles, loyalty, and moral luck. I also argue, building on Hegel’s definition of tragedy, that 'The Human Stain' is a particularly modern tragedy. The novel highlights conflicting role obligations, inadequate conceptions of freedom, and (...) the tensions of cultural paradigm shifts—all characteristics typical of modern tragedy. I claim that parsing 'The Human Stain' as a tragedy deepens our understanding of the novel as well as drawing our attention to its philosophical significance. (shrink)
Paul Raimond Daniels’s Nietzsche and The Birth of Tragedy is an engaging, instructive, and clearly written study of Nietzsche’s first book. It is a particularly fine achievement given the difficulties, in terms of both style and content, that Nietzsche’s text presents to the reader. Daniels’s aim is to present BT as an ideal introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy, and, in light of its problematizing of the relation between art and truth, to argue that BT is crucial for evaluating the aims, (...) successes, and shortcomings of Nietzsche’s later philosophy. Furthermore, Daniels presents an “affirmative” interpretation, arguing that BT champions a life-affirming worldview that finds its highest expression in... (shrink)
Oedipus the tyrant and the limits of political rationalism -- Blind faith and enlightened statesmanship in Oedipus at colonus -- The pious heroism of Antigone -- Conclusion: Nietzsche, Plato, and Aristotle on philosophy and tragedy.
[Final version in Philosophical Papers, 2000] Much has been made over the past few decades of two related problems in aesthetics. First, the "feeling fiction problem," as I will call it, asks: is it rational to be moved by what happens to fictional characters? How can we care about what happens to people who we know are not real?[i] Second, the so-called "paradox of tragedy" is embodied in the question: Why or how is it that we take pleasure in (...) artworks which are clearly designed to cause in us such feelings as sadness and fear?[ii] Various solutions to these puzzles have been proposed, but my primary aim is neither to offer a novel solution nor to summarize and critique most of the alternatives.[iii] My focus instead will be on the issue of consciousness and, more specifically, to view these problems from the point of the view of the so-called "higher-order thought theory of consciousness" . Although some work on these puzzles have raised important questions about the nature of consciousness and "aesthetic experience," no attempt has yet been made to examine them in light of a specific theory. (shrink)
Although Greek virtue theory, Kantian ethics, and utilitarianism contend that evil and moral tragedy can be avoided, my paper will argue that our recognition of their inevitability provides the only means toward taking full moral responsibility for one’s agency. It is especially tragic to observe that wrongdoing is often inescapable. An agent may have overriding moral reasons to pursue one course of action over another, and yet in making the morally best choice the individual nevertheless transgresses a moral value. (...) My paper will argue that recognizing the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy and the connection between them provides the resources for diminishing them both. Conversely, faith in the ability of reason and decency to conquer evil leads to tragedy. To deny the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy is to deny essential features of moral life. Such a denial clearly leads to an inability to respond to others in the face of evil and tragedy. The proper response to the inevitability of evil and moral tragedy is not the fabrication of an abstract moral principle that denies their existence, but inquiry into their nature. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to explore the metaphysical foundations of Throne of Blood , Kurosawa's reworking of Shakespeare's Macbeth . Using Hegel's theory of tragedy, I develop the distinction between Greek and modern tragedy, with their differing bases in ethical and subjective freedom. I then show that Noh drama also includes a very different metaphysical account, stemming from its theoretical roots in Buddhism. I then use these three differing accounts (Greek, modern and Noh drama) to explore (...) the effect of Kurosawa's use Noh aesthetics in Throne of Blood on the metaphysical ground of the film itself. (shrink)
This article attempts to illustrate our confrontation with tragedy in contemporary situation, That is why we are discussing this here in seven issues /Tragedy as a Dialectical Mode of Experience). Finally, this article seeks to show that tragedy is a way of experience in our life today. Key words: tragedy, philosophy, Greek.
Kant admits that there are two kinds of human works that have something sublime about them, the work of the poet, e.g., tragedy, and the work of the politician, i.e., war. This paper will explore Kant's reasoning about the sublime element in these two human works.
Introduction 1 -- Ancient Greece -- Reason and the irrational : Sophocles' Oedipus tyrannus -- Psuchê : literature and moral psychology from Homer to Sophocles -- Aristotle's poetics : Oedipus and the problem of tragedy -- Psuchê redux : philosophy and the new psychology -- Psychologizing Oedipus : reason and unreason in Aristotle's ethics -- Golden age denmark -- Kierkegaard's retrieval of Greek tragedy -- Tragedy as historical idea : either/or ancient drama reflected in the modern -- (...) Stages on life's way : Hamartia in the wake of modernity -- Fear and trembling : tragedy, comedy, and the heroism of Abraham -- The concept of anxiety : fate and the tragic logos of a second ethics -- Beyond eudaimonism : tragic virtue and the practice of eternity -- Moral psychology in the pseudonyms, search for a method ethicscontra ethics : Climacus on eternal happiness and tragic virtue -- Kierkegaard and the tragedy of authorship. (shrink)
Philosophical anthropologies that emphasise the role of the emotions can be used to expand existing notions of moral agency and learning in situations of great moral complexity. In this article we tell the story of one patient facing the tough decision of whether to be tested for Huntington’s disease or not. We then interpret her story from two different but compatible philosophical entry points: Aristotle’s conception of Greek tragedy and Karl Jaspers’ notion of Grenzsituationen (boundary situations). We continue by (...) indicating some ways in which these two positions may be used for reflecting upon different perspectives involved in clinical decision-making, those of patients, clinicians and bioethicists. We conclude that the ideas we introduce can be used as hermeneutic tools for situating learning and dialogue within a broader cultural field in which literature and art may also play important roles. (shrink)
In this essay, I approach the question of comedy and tragedy, as well as their relation to philosophy, in the Platonic dialogues through a focus on the comic poet Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. I elicit both the positive contribution of the poet’s speech as well as its limitations for an understanding of comedy, tragedy, and philosophy.
This paper traces and examines the different connotations given to the notion of “tragedy” in Paul Klee’s thought. From his early reflections on, Klee relates this notion to an intermediate and conflictive condition that characterizes human existence—an existence that takes place between heaven and earth, between the ethereal and the earthly. This essay focuses on how the connotations Klee gives to tragedy in different moments of his reflections transform the way he conceives the work of art. Hence, I (...) will attempt to show how Klee’s reflections relate the tragedy of human existence not only to the figure of the artist, understood as a tragic figure, but also to an idea of tragedy that the work produces and represents in its own particular way of coming into being. Thus, this paper poses a new approach to Klee’s suggestive proposal on modern art as well as to the meaning given to pictorial representation throughout his thought and artworks. (shrink)
Is tragedy, as Nietzsche declared, dead? In recent years many philosophers have reconsidered tragedy's relation to philosophy. While tragedy is deemed to contain important lessons for philosophy, there is a consensus that it remains a thing of the past. This article calls this consensus into question, arguing that it reifies tragedy, keeping tragedy at arm's length. With the interest of identifying the necessity of tragedy to philosophy, it draws from Quentin Skinner to put forward (...) an alternative approach to genre as living form. This approach alters our understanding of the philosopher at the heart of philosophy's dialogue with tragedy, Immanuel Kant. Moreover, it shows that tragedy is closer to contemporary philosophy than we might think. (shrink)
The present study considers whether poetry is capable of providing insight that can illuminate our lives, doing so from the perspective of Aristotle’s understanding of tragedy, fear, and the emotions more generally. It argues that and explains how fear as understood by Aristotle can foster insight in a tragedy’s audience, depicts the nature and the bases for such insight, and suggests several ways in which insight that fear can bring to tragedy can be especially or particularly illuminating. (...) The argument for these conclusions proceeds by considering Aristotle’s understanding of fear, noting particularly its epistemological powers. It then turns to fear’s realization in response to tragedy, arguing that and explaining how tragedy’s form and a number of its distinctive features can shape fear in ways that more readily foster insight than is to be found in fear felt in more ordinary circumstances. The conclusion reached is that on Aristotle’s understanding fear in response to tragedy can prove particularly illuminating, and can illuminate our ordinary lives. (shrink)
Before he joined the Communist Party, the young György Lukács published an outstanding history of the modern drama in which he combined sociological analysis with aesthetic judgment. By doing so he called his countrymen's attention to a new and insightful approach to the study of literature. At the same time, he made a strong case for the superiority of neoclassical tragedy—largely inspired by personal experience.
The goal of this work is writing about the importance of the poetic art, especially the tragedy to understand the psyche. The literature, besides showing an epoch, represents in a clear and poetic way the human conflicts. To reach this goal, we went through some literary works – Edipo King, by Sofocles, Hamlet and Macbeth by Shakespeare; Goriot Father by Balzac; Twenty Four Hours in a Woman’s Life by Stefan Zweig – extracting from them some fragments in which human (...) sufferings are explicit. We checked the importance of the speech in the emotions relief. We verified in the psychoanalytic and literary speeches that the poetic art seems to illuminate Freud’s steps in such a way that the poets anticipated the technical and psychoanalytic theory. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive study of Nietzsche's earliest (and extraordinary) book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872). When he wrote it, Nietzsche was a Greek scholar, a friend and champion of Wagner, and a philosopher in the making. His book has been very influential and widely read, but has always posed great difficulties for readers because of the particular way Nietzsche brings his ancient and modern interests together. The proper appreciation of such a work requires access to ideas that (...) cross the boundaries of conventional specialisms. This is now provided by M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern in their joint study of Nietzsche's book. They examine in detail its content, style and form; its strange genesis and hybrid status; its biographical background and the controversy engendered by its publication; its value as an account of ancient Greek culture and as a theory of tragedy and music; its relation to other theories of tragedy; and its place in the history of German ideas and in Nietzsche's own philosophical career. (shrink)
In this article I elaborate and defend a rights-based understanding of climate politics, that is, one that takes climate politics to concern the rights to access of natural resources as opposed to people’s economic incentives. The argument contains two parts. The first is negative: to demonstrate that the tragedy of the commons as a story of climate change is inadequate. The second is positive: to suggest a more satisfactory framework, which I call the tragedy of the few. In (...) this view, climate politics is neither primarily mitigation nor economic incentive politics, but one of distributing rights to access natural resources in a fair and environmentally-friendly way. By changing both the narrative and underlying methodological assumptions, my goal is to enable us to accommodate the rights to access natural resources as a key moral issue in climate politics. I begin by sketching the main features of the tragedy of the commons and demonstrate its inadequacy. I then provide an account of the rights-based view of climate change that consists of two arguments. First, I demonstrate the normative side of the argument by highlighting the importance of environmental rights, and second, I outline the empirical side of the argument by discussing recent studies on the properties of natural resources and on the corporate agents who extract the resources that emit greenhouse gasses. (shrink)
Can horror films be tragic? From an Aristotelian point of view, the answer would seem to be no. For it is hard to see how a film that places a monster at the center of the plot could evoke pity and fear in the audience. This paper argues that some films belong to both horror and tragedy, and so can be accommodated as tragedies according to Aristotle's framework in the Poetics.
Towards the end of his philosophical and political theorizations, the Greek-born French philosopher and thinker Cornelius Castoriadis turned his attention to artistic representation, in particular to Greek, or to use a term he preferred, “Athenian” tragedy. The aim of this article is to analyze the role played by his interpretation of tragedy in his understanding of democracy as a tragic regime. In order to address this interrogation, the article will be divided in three parts. The first part is (...) devoted to what Castoriadis deems the “Greek creation”. The second part offers an interpretation of Castoriadis’ formulation of tragedy as both a public institution and a “window to chaos”, emphasizing its connection to democracy, autonomy and judgement. In the final remarks, we critically assess his original conception of tragedy and its political implications for Castoriadis’ idea of democracy. (shrink)
This powerful study is based on the premise that literary theory is important because literature is important. Bugliani explores the intersection of tragedy with philosophy and psychoanalysis. A threefold purpose is evident: to examine the tension between philosophy and literature, to discuss the teaching of tragedy and finally to discuss that teaching in the works of Lacan, Marcel and, above all, Paul Claudel.
The Kleinian psychoanalyst Hanna Segal argues for the reparative nature of art, and especially of the genre of classical tragedy. According to Kleinian theory, healthy psychological development requires that early infantile aggressive and destructive emotions are worked through; such “working through” is necessary for the development of conscience, for feelings of empathy, as well as for cognitive development. It is also a necessary condition for creative activity. Segal examines the roots of the impulse to create by looking specifically at (...) the genre of classical tragedy; she argues that the pleasure we derive from tragedy is non-contingently related to the distressing elements of the drama. Thus not only are the formal and aesthetic elements important for the containment of powerfully distressing emotions, but the distressing emotions themselves are a necessary ingredient of the aesthetic pleasure This paper will examine Segal’s discussion of tragedy in the light of her commitments to Kleinian theory, and it will attempt to explore more fully the contributions of difficult or painful emotions towards aesthetic pleasure. (shrink)
The first comprehensive study of Nietzsche's earliest book, The Birth of Tragedy, this important volume by M. S. Silk and J. P. Stern examines the work in detail: its place in Nietzsche's philosophical career; its value as an account of ancient Greek culture; its place in the history of German ideas, and its value as a theory of tragedy and music. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Lesley Chamberlain, illuminating (...) its enduring importance and relevance to philosophical enquiry, this accessible study has been revived for a new generation of readers. (shrink)
This book is a study of ancient views about 'moral luck'. It examines the fundamental ethical problem that many of the valued constituents of a well-lived life are vulnerable to factors outside a person's control, and asks how this affects our appraisal of persons and their lives. The Greeks made a profound contribution to these questions, yet neither the problems nor the Greek views of them have received the attention they deserve. This book thus recovers a central dimension of Greek (...) thought and addresses major issues in contemporary ethical theory. One of its most original aspects is its interrelated treatment of both literary and philosophical texts. The Fragility of Goodness has proven to be important reading for philosophers and classicists, and its non-technical style makes it accessible to any educated person interested in the difficult problems it tackles. This new edition features an entirely new preface by Martha Nussbaum. (shrink)
The novel begins as follows:"Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him. She decided six months later to return to him for the same reason. The absent Paul, haunting her with letters and telephone bells and imagined footsteps on the stairs had begun to be the greater torment. Dora suffered from guilt, and with guilt came fear. She decided at last that the persecution of his presence was to be preferred to the persecution of his absence."Murdoch's novel (...) The Bell is about Imber Court. It is a small Anglican religious community of lay people whose lives were transformed, not just by the arrival of a couple of dissimilar visitors, not just by the arrival of a new bell to be installed at Imber Abbey located beyond the lake, but more significantly by the discovery of a centuries-old bell the story of which is engulfed in a terrible legend. (shrink)
Skillful, sophisticated translations of two of Nietzsche's essential works about the conflict between the moral and aesthetic approaches to life, the impact of Christianity on human values, the meaning of science, the contrast between the Apollonian and Dionysian spirits, and other themes central to his thinking.