Tragedy - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Tragedy

The two main strands in the history of philosophical reflection on tragedy, as a genre of art, can both be seen as having their origins in Plato's critique of tragic poetry in the Republic and other dialogues. It is there that we find their first sustained philosophical treatment; and with respect to this small part of it, at least, Alfred North Whitehead's characterization of the history of philosophy as a series of footnotes to Plato is not too fanciful.

Tragedy and Emotion

One strand of thought focuses on the character and value of our experience of tragedy, and can be seen in Plato's charge that tragedy (and indeed mimetic poetry in general) "gratifies and indulges the instinctive desires … with its hunger for tears and for an uninhibited indulgence in grief"; that "it waters [passions] when they ought to...

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This section contains 3,529 words
(approx. 12 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Tragedy Encyclopedia Article
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Tragedy from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.