J. M. Bernstein

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195182637
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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This article looks at the relevance of the literary genre of tragedy to philosophy. It suggests that tragedy matters to philosophy in part because philosophy at its inception attempts to authorize itself by banishing the tragic poets. There is something about tragedy that directly challenges philosophy's original self-understanding and some content or manner of tragedy requires either refutation or acknowledgment that cannot be put aside. This article examines Aristotle's Poetics and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Lectures on Fine Art and describes three tragic narratives, Oedipus the King, Hamlet, and the emergent tragic narration of the Holocaust.

Keywords: tragedy; philosophy; self-understanding; Aristotle; Poetics; Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; Lectures on Fine Art; Oedipus the King; Hamlet; Holocaust

Article.  11881 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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