Philosophy and Tragedy

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5825

At the origins of the philosophical tradition, Plato tried to legitimate philosophical activity by banishing the tragic poets. Clearly something about tragedy challenges philosophy's own self-conception. The aim of this course will be to think about why tragedy matters so deeply to philosophy. We will ask why, and with what consequences, philosophy has tried from its inception to exclude tragic poetry. At the same time, we will investigate the extent to which philosophers and tragic dramatists have been gripped by common problems, such as: What, in human affairs, are the actions that are most revelatory, meaningful, or dramatic? Is the worldview proposed by tragic poets acceptable, livable, or defensible? We will read texts by Aristotle, Hegel, Benjamin, Bradley, Szondi and others alongside works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Racine, Bchner and Beckett.

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