Catharsis

Aristotle taught that virtue and character were connected with the pleasure and pain that resulted from successful or thwarted activities. An important aspect of character education was learning to experience pleasure and pain at appropriate times and to an appropriate extent, and to know in what circumstances fear and anger were suitable emotions. Catharsis brought about through drama and music was a means of producing a moderation and balance of the emotions, and of connecting the passions with reason and wisdom. Corneille, Racine, and Lessing advanced views that such an experience of catharsis had a moral value in educating the public.

Another interpretation of catharsis is based on the medical concept of purging or cleansing. The ancient Greeks recognized the link between mental and emotional states and the health of the physical body. Thomas Twining in 1789 and H. Modern genres such as horror and thriller films depicting major catastrophes, graphic violence, and extreme conflicts could be said to induce catharsis by building up to an almost unbearably stimulating climax, before releasing the audience back into their everyday mundane lives. The emotions portrayed in these genres are not as profound as those of plays and literature, but they reflect the fear, irreverence, and nervous tension of modern society. This can be perceived in comedy, melodrama, and most other dramatic forms.

There are sometimes deliberate attempts to subvert the structure of catharsis in theater in order to achieve a political or aesthetic purpose. According to Brecht’s theory, the absence of a cathartic resolving action would require the audience to take political action in the real world in order to fill the emotional gap they experience. Almost every religion has rituals of cleansing, purification, and rebirth, such as washing before entering a mosque, pouring sanctified water before approaching a Buddhist shrine, bathing in the Ganges River, or baptism with holy water. Catharsis can also refer to an overwhelming spiritual experience of repentance and renewal. In Mysticism, the aim of human life and philosophy is to realize the mystical return of the soul to God. Early religious cults used two types of cathartic sacrifice to distinguish between the sacred and the unclean: One to cleanse of impurity and make the object fit for common use, and another to rid of sanctity and similarly render the object suitable for human use or intercourse. On the Day of Atonement two goats were offered as sacrifices.

An example of the second class is the sacrifice of the bull to the Rigvedic god Rudra. At the Feast of First Fruits, holiness is seen to be concentrated in a single animal, which is shown respect or veneration as a representative of its species. In both these cases the object of the rite is the elimination of association with the divine as a source of danger. Most commonly in a medical context it refers to a purging of the bowels. Freud was already aware of the modern medical interpretation of Aristotelian catharsis by Jakob Bernays in Bonn, who was the uncle of Freud’s wife. Catharsis is also an emotional release associated with talking about the underlying causes of a problem. The Aesthetic Feeling and Aristotle’s Catharsis Theory.

The Classical Tradition, Studies in Honor of Harry Caplan. Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press. Le Pur et l’impur dans la penséedes Grecs. All links retrieved January 18, 2017. New World Encyclopedia:Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. This page was last modified on 18 January 2017, at 15:49.

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But somehow this project of mine became relevant all over the world, including the U. These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘catharsis. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. English as a medical term having to do with purging the body—and especially the bowels—of unwanted material. English with a meaning descriptive of such a physically cleansing purge. It didn’t take long for people to start using these words figuratively in reference to emotional release and spiritual cleansing. Subscribe to America’s largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Get Word of the Day daily email! How Strong Is Your Vocabulary? Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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