The Paradox of Tragedy
First published in 1960, The Paradox of Tragedy raises the fundamental question, why do we enjoy tragic drama with its themes of death and disaster? Aristotle’s theory of catharsis is still widely accepted as a satisfactory explanation of this paradox. In the first of its two connected essays, D.D. Raphael argues that Aristotle’s account of tragic emotions is distorted by a faulty psychology and fails to solve the problem. Raphael offers instead a new theory of Tragedy, as a conflict between two forms of the sublime, in which the sublimity of human heroism is exalted above the sublimity of overwhelming power. The spirit of the Tragedy is liable to conflict with doctrines of Biblical theology, and the difficulties of fusing the two are explored with illustrations from Greek, Biblical, English, and French literature. The second essay discusses the wider topic of philosophical drama, considering in what sense tragic and other forms of serious drama may be called philosophical, and also pointing out the dramatic shape of much of Plato’s philosophy. In this discussion, the question of religious Tragedy reappears in a different perspective. This book will be an essential read for scholars and researchers of philosophy in general and political philosophy in particular.
Preface Part 1: The Paradox of Tragedy 1. Why does Tragedy please? 2. Tragedy and Religion Part II: Philosophical Drama 1. The Philosopher as Dramatist – Plato and the Greek Drama 2. The Dramatist as Philosopher Index of Authors Cited