Saturday, May 31, 2008


From My Inbox

A correspondent sent me the following email. The first paragraph makes me blush, but I let it stand as written:
Hi Mike,

Glad to see Laudator is going strong. It's one of my favorite islands of culture in the vast & boundless cyber wasteland. "Worthless reading", indeed. Worthless perhaps to those whose lives are utterly consumed with money-grubbing and ladder-climbing and tail-chasing, but as Plato and Aristotle agree, nothing is valuable or good to a man whose soul is ruined by vice and base pursuits. Be happy, I think, that your labours are worthless to such people.

I can't fathom Nietzsche's strange allusion to Plato on Philoktetes. Nowhere that I recall does Plato speak by name of the play or the character, though the passage in REP 10 you cite certainly fits that play. Aristotle, on the other hand, is fond of the play and discusses it at several places, including NE VII. NE VII gives us Aristotle's account of malakia and truphe and akrasia, and their opposites. I wonder which of these terms/concepts best fits our notion of emotional incontinence. The key opposites are karteria and enkrateia, which it seems reasonable to translate as "toughness" and "self control".

One of the strangest features of Greek tragedy is the obligatory lamentation scene(s). We hear that the Greek (male) audiences loved these scenes and joined in, weeping and wailing. I envision the actors on stage pausing while the audience gets control of itself. Just bizarre to our sensibilities, but a clue that Aristotle's theory of katharsis is one the right track in explaining the intended incontinent response of the audience to the play. We allow women their soap operas these days, but let a man get got up in AS THE WORLD TURNS, and we unhesitatingly abuse him as effeminate. The Greeks were different.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?