Moral learning through tragedy in Aristotle and Force Majeure

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Abstract

In this paper I challenge Critchley’s recent suggestion that tragic art is not morally educational in Aristotle’s analysis and instead argue it can be inferred from Aristotle that tragic art can morally educate in three main ways: via emotion education, by helping the audience come to understand what matters in life, and by depicting conduct worthy of moral emulation as well as conduct that is not. Halliwell’s reading of how catharsis helps the audience of tragedy learn to feel pity and fear appropriately is discussed. Two objections Lear makes to Halliwell’s account are thereafter outlined and responded to. I maintain that for Aristotle the pleasure proper to tragedy is prompted by understanding of what matters most in life – not making mistakes that threaten the prosperity of loved ones. I pull the paper together by questioning aspects of Falzon’s reading of Ruben Ostlund’s film, Force Majeure. I conclude that the film both exemplifies and critiques Aristotle’s account of moral learning through tragedy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aesthetic Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Apr 2022

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