A Cognitive Interpretation of Aristotle’s Concepts of Catharsis and Tragic Pleasure

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Jonathan Lear argues that the established purgation, purification, and cognitive stimulation interpretations of Aristotle’s concepts of catharsis and tragic pleasure are off the mark. In response, Lear defends an anti-cognitivist account, arguing that it is the pleasure associated with imaginatively “living life to the full” and yet hazarding nothing of importance that captures Aristotle’s understanding of catharsis and tragic pleasure. This analysis reveals that Aristotle’s account of imagination in conjunction with his understanding of both specific intellectual virtues and rational emotions of an educated citizen not only tells against Lear’s anti-cognitivist construal, but also divulges an alternative cognitive stimulation reading.
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