Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Gadamer I 135
Fear/Aristotle/Gadamer: The presentation [of tragedy] works through Eleos and Phobos. The traditional translation of these affects by "compassion" and "fear" suggests a far too subjective tone. Aristotle did not define these concepts at all as compassion or even as the changing value of compassion(1)
over the centuries, likewise fear is not to be understood as a state of mind of inwardness. Rather, both are experiences that attack and carry people away. "Eleos" is the lament that one experiences in the face of what we call lamentable.
The German word "Jammer" (engl. lament) is a good equivalent, because this word does not mean mere inwardness, but also its expression. Accordingly, "phobos" is not only a state of mind, but, as Aristotle says, a shiver(2) such that one's blood freezes when a shiver is experienced.
In the particular way in which the tragedy of Phobos is described here in connection with Eleos, Phobos means the shivers of anxiety that one experiences in the face of the one you see hurrying towards ruin and for whom you fear. Lament and anxiety are ways of the "ecstasy" of being outside oneself, which testify to the spell of what is going on in front of one. Now these affects are said to be the affects by Aristotle, through which the play causes the purification of such passions.
As is well known, this translation is controversial, and in particular the meaning of the genitive(3).


1. Max Kommerell (Lessing and Aristotle) has meritoriously written this history of compassion, but has not distinguished the original meaning of it enough. Cf. inzwischen W. Schadewaldt, Furcht und Mitleid? Hermes 83, 1955, p. 129ff. and the addition through H. Flashar, Hermes 1956, p. 12—48.
2. Arist. Rhet. 11 13, 1389 b 32.
3. Cf. M. Kommerell, who gives a good outline on the older opinions: op.cit., p. 262—272; also recently there are defenders of the objective genitive: most recently K. H. Volkmann-Schluck in Varia Variorum (Festschrift für Karl Reinhardt 1952).


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-26
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