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Feagin, Susan L.. The pleasures of Tragedy
1983, American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (1): 95-104.
Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir
Summary: This article addresses a paradox that has puzzled philosophers of art since Aristotle: tragedies produce, and are designed to produce, pleasure for the audiences, without supposing any special callousness or insensitivity on their part. The author introduces a distinction which enables us to understand how we can feel pleasure in response to tragedy, and which also sheds some light on the complexity of such responses. The virtues of this approach lie in its straightforward solution to the paradox of tragedy as well as the bridges the approach builds between this and some other traditional problems in aesthetics, and the promising ways in which we are helped to see their relationships. In particular, we are helped to understand the feeling many have had about the greatness of tragedy in comparison to comedy, and provided a new perspective from which to view the relationship between art and morality.

Comment: Really clear introduction to the nature of the relationship between aesthetic and moral value, and specifically to the topic of meta-responses to art. The last section of the paper also throws some light upon the differences between responses and meta-responses to real situations and to art. The reading is not very difficult so in principle, it could be used by undergraduate students. On the other hand, the paper contains some very specialised detail, so it might be recommendable to use it for postgraduate courses in both ethics and aesthetics.

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