Emotion, Cognition, and the Value of Literature: The Case of Nietzsche's Genealogy

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 45 (2):182 (2014)
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Near the end of the Republic, Plato challenges defenders of poetry to explain how it “not only gives pleasure but is beneficial . . . to human life.”1 We sometimes hear a heightened version of this demand. Partisans not just of poetry but also of literature in general are asked to establish that the arts they celebrate possess a distinctive or unique value. In other words, they must show that poetry and literature are irreplaceable and that we would lose some great good were they banished from the scene.2 As with Plato’s original challenge, the more radical version is often met on cognitive grounds. It is said that poetry and literature can convey knowledge and insight that could not otherwise be conveyed. They ..
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