Tragedy in the Philosophies of Nietzsche and Aristotle

Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and Aristotle’s Poetics offer different examinations of tragedy as the highest form of art in the Hellenic tradition. Perform a comparative analysis of the philosophers’ conceptions of the tragic form. Where do they locate the origin of tragedy? What do they identify as the most important parts of tragedy? What are the psychological and social implications of tragedy for civilization? Why do they praise it? What is the role of tragedy and art in the greater collective consciousness? These questions and more allow for an in depth understanding of the philosophers’ respective theories of tragedy, and how the tragic form functions in relation to the individual and his culture. Take it further and draw the analysis to present day. What can tragedy offer us today, in the age of information, digital culture, and globalization? How can we use the theoretical work of Nietzsche and Aristotle to benefit our artistic production?

  • Very unique, theoretical paper! – Jason052714 5 years ago
  • I hope the philosophers in our midst pick up this topic. I would love to read about how philosophies from another century can relate to the context and creativity today. – Munjeera 5 years ago
  • I have to disagree with Jason on this one; there have been literally hundreds of books written on precisely this topic. Every aesthetic philosopher worth their salt has grappled with the nature of tragedy - since they owe the debt to Aristotle as the pre-Kantian father of their field - and has made a point of reading and building upon every thinker to grapple with the subject since, including (but by no means limited to) Seneca, Hume, Diderot, Schlegel, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Freud, Benjamin, and Walter Kauffman. Furthermore, there's an entirely separate domain of literary and dramatic criticism (that being my field) which has dealt with the subject perhaps even more extensively, including the likes of Goethe, Wagner, Bernard Shaw, Brander Matthews, Allardyce Nicoll, George Jean Nathan, Francis Fergusson, A.C. Bradley, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Eric Bentley, F.L. Lucas, George Steiner, Arthur Miller, Lionel Abel, Raymond Williams, Robert Corrigan, J.L. Styan, A.D. Nuttall, Richard B. Sewall, Virgil Geddes, Richard Kuhns, John Orr, and Howard Barker (just to name the first few to come to mind). I don't believe there has been a single scholar writing on the subject of tragedy since the turn of the twentieth century who has neglected to note and compare the visions and contributions of Aristotle and Nietzsche. Perhaps this would be a unique theoretical paper on this particular online platform, but I have a special request for anyone who is considering writing it: read at least four books by any of the authors listed above. If, after that, you still think you have anything to add, then by all means, go ahead. I will admit that your point near the end, regarding "the age of information, digital culture, and globalization" may be a somewhat fresher take - one that Hegel, Goethe, and Matthews were too early to comment upon - but that calls for an entirely different article that the one that the rest of your topic appears to be pitching. My two cents would be to re-frame the article to the effect of "Tragedy in the Twenty-First Century," to which the discussion will require reflections upon Aristotle and Nietzsche (if the author is worth his/her salt), but should emphasize what tragedy and the tragic mean to us today, rather than what they meant in 335 BCE vs. 1872 CE (which, again, has been well documented). – ProtoCanon 5 years ago
  • Great topic. Analyzing modern tragedies in this way is not just interesting, but enlightening. – Tigey 5 years ago

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