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Emotion and Peace of MindFrom Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation$
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Richard Sorabji

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256600.001.0001

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Catharsis and the Classification Of Therapies

Catharsis and the Classification Of Therapies

(p.288) 19 Catharsis and the Classification Of Therapies
Emotion and Peace of Mind

Richard Sorabji (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

If Aristotle's catharsis gets rid of something by allowing it moderate exercise, by tragedy it will get rid of an excessive disposition to grief, as well as pity and fear; and in comedy of an excessive disposition to contempt. Dispositions to fear, grief, and contempt do tend to be excessive. Until the Neoplatonists Porphyry and Iamblichus, there are only brief references to Aristotle's catharsis in Pythagoras and Pythagoreans, Philodemus, Plutarch, less clearly in the Stoics Diogenes of Babylon and Seneca. But among later Neoplatonists, Proclus denies theatre can be cathartic while Simplicius allows over-indulgence to be cathartic. Both compare a healing emetic. Olympiodorus associates catharsis through moderate exercise of emotion with Pythagoras, whereas Aristotle's catharsis is associated with his advice in Rhetoric to drive out one emotion by its opposite, and there are three other kinds of catharsis.

Keywords:   tragedy, comedy, Pythagoras, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Simplicius, Olympiodorus, kinds of catharsis

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