Tragic Pleasure from Homer to Plato

Tragic Pleasure from Homer to Plato

by Rana Saadi Liebert


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This book offers a resolution of the paradox posed by the pleasure of tragedy by returning to its earliest articulations in archaic Greek poetry and its subsequent emergence as a philosophical problem in Plato's Republic. Socrates' claim that tragic poetry satisfies our 'hunger for tears' hearkens back to archaic conceptions of both poetry and mourning that suggest a common source of pleasure in the human appetite for heightened forms of emotional distress. By unearthing a psychosomatic model of aesthetic engagement implicit in archaic poetry and philosophically elaborated by Plato, this volume not only sheds new light on the Republic's notorious indictment of poetry, but also identifies rationally and ethically disinterested sources of value in our pursuit of aesthetic states. In doing so the book resolves an intractable paradox in aesthetic theory and human psychology: the appeal of painful emotions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107184442
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 04/07/2017
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 6.18(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Rana Saadi Liebert is a site director and faculty member of the Bard Prison Initiative, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Bard College, New York. Her research focuses on the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in ancient literature and philosophy, ancient and modern theories of emotion, and the history of conceptualizing fiction.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the pleasure of tragedy; 1. The taste of archaic poetry; 2. Emotional satisfaction in archaic poetry; 3. Tragic pleasure in Plato's Republic; Epilogue: poetry and privacy: towards an Aristotelian defense of poetry and a Platonic alternative.

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