In this Book

The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy
summary

Affecting audiences with depictions of suffering and injustice is a key function of tragedy, and yet it has long been viewed by philosophers as a dubious enterprise. In this book Thomas Gould uses both historical and theoretical approaches to explore tragedy and its power to gratify readers and audiences. He takes as his starting point Plato's moral and psychological objections to tragedy, and the conflict he recognized between "poetry"--the exploitation of our yearning to see ourselves as victims--and "philosophy"--the insistence that all good people are happy. Plato's objections to tragedy are shown to be an essential feature of Socratic rationalism and to constitute a formidable challenge even today. Gould makes a case for the rightness and psychological necessity of violence and suffering in literature, art, and religion, but he distinguishes between depictions of violence that elicit sympathy only for the victims and those that cause us to sympathize entirely with the perpetrators. It is chiefly the former, Gould argues, that fuel our responses not only to true tragedy but also to religious myths and critical displays of political rage.

Originally published in 1990.

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Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. ix-xxviii
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  1. Part I: The Ancient Quarrel
  2. pp. 1-3
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  1. 1. "Philosophy" in Socratism
  2. pp. 4-7
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  1. 2. Socratism in Plato
  2. pp. 8-12
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  1. 3. Socratism in Aristotle
  2. pp. 13-18
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  1. 4. Plato's First Attack: Republic II
  2. pp. 19-21
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  1. 5. Pathos in Greek Religion
  2. pp. 22-28
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  1. 6. Plato's Second Attack: Republic X
  2. pp. 29-35
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  1. 7. Pathos in Greek Tragedy
  2. pp. 36-48
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  1. 8. Pathos in Aristotle
  2. pp. 49-54
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  1. 9. Plato, Aristotle, and the "Shudder"
  2. pp. 55-62
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  1. 10. Pathos, pathos, passion, and Passion
  2. pp. 63-69
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  1. 11. The Quarrel Today
  2. pp. 70-75
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  1. 12. Two Case Histories
  2. pp. 76-79
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  1. 13. Plato/Aristotle and Freud/Jung
  2. pp. 80-86
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  1. Part II: Pathos and the Appeal of Tragedy
  2. pp. 87-89
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  1. 14. Justice and Injustice in Homer
  2. pp. 90-103
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  1. 15. Justice and Injustice in the Oresteia
  2. pp. 104-116
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  1. 16. Aeschylus the Eleusinian
  2. pp. 117-129
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  1. 17. Pathos and the "Shudder" in Sophocles
  2. pp. 130-140
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  1. 18. The Anger of the Gods and Heroes
  2. pp. 141-154
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  1. 19. Sophocles or Socrates?
  2. pp. 155-170
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  1. 20. Euripides Against the Myths
  2. pp. 171-188
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  1. 21. Our Euripides
  2. pp. 189-204
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  1. Part III: Having it both Ways
  2. pp. 205-208
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  1. 22. Was Plato Serious?
  2. pp. 209-224
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  1. 23. The True Dionysus
  2. pp. 225-240
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  1. 24. The Trouble with Psychological Explanations
  2. pp. 241-257
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  1. 25. The Trouble with Aristotle's Alternative
  2. pp. 258-267
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  1. 26. The Nature of Tragedy
  2. pp. 268-299
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  1. Bibliography
  2. p. 300
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  1. Text and Commentaries
  2. pp. 300-301
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  1. Secondary Sources
  2. pp. 301-310
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 311-318
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