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Nietzsche And The Paradox Of Tragedy

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Chapter Summary

The classical tragedies by Sophocles and Aeschylus abound with highly unpleasant, often painful events and situations: injustice, wanton cruelty, loss, despair, and death. Almost equally unpleasant are the feelings of fear and pity they stir up in the viewers. Nevertheless, they have been enjoyed time and again by audiences who evidently found some pleasure or use in witnessing such negativity. This apparent paradox has mystified philosophers throughout the ages. Why are we drawn to artistic representations of the negative sides of life? The question also applies to tragic content in literature or film, and even to non-representational music written in a minor key or containing harsh dissonants; but to Friedrich Nietzsche, it bore a much broader relevance. This chapter briefly explains the views of Aristotle, Schopenhauer and David Hume on the ?paradox of tragedy? and then explains Nietzsche?s remarkable answer.

Keywords: Aristotle; David Hume; Friedrich Nietzsche; paradox of tragedy; Schopenhauer



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