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The Necessity of TheaterThe Art of Watching and Being Watched$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332001.001.0001

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The Mask of Wisdom

The Mask of Wisdom

(p.211) TWELVE The Mask of Wisdom
The Necessity of Theater

Paul Woodruff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Divine wisdom is not found in human life or on any human stage. Human wisdom may be found, but with difficulty, because it always conceals itself. Human wisdom knows its own weakness too well to profess wisdom in public. The art of theater is one of the masks of wisdom. Plato accused theater of pretending to a wisdom it does not have, but the reverse is the case. When theater carries wisdom it does so in concealment, with the result that only artful watchers may take it in. Chapter 12 explores the qualities that allow good watchers to gather wisdom about themselves and about what it is to be human, from watching in theater. Mimesis in theater supports the growth of wisdom, as does dialogue between opposed positions. Performers too gain wisdom from practicing the art of theater. The inversion of watchers and watched brings new wisdom to both groups, while merging them together, although it brings theater to an end, leads to the furthest wisdom we can derive from theater.

Keywords:   philosophy, Plato, human wisdom, mimesis, dialogue

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