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Lecture: A German Return to Greek Tragedy (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche)

May 14 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

This class is part of a course titled "LITERARY THEORY IN ANTIQUITY AND EARLY MODERN EUROPE"
It's taught by Dr. Bryan Berry, PhD.

• Class introduction: For the great figures of early German philosophy, aesthetics played a central role in their thought. In his Critique of Judgment, Kant claims that aesthetic judgements are subjective universals. This seemingly paradoxical claim has repercussions for what it means to make judgements in general. Hegel also sees art as a special case of the relationship between the universal and the particular—and instance of the Idea or Platonic Form entering into the world of becoming. Hegel’s favored example is Sophocles’s Antigone, which is a clash of universals (Antigone vs. Creon). Finally, we shall turn to Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy and his critique of philosophical discourse stretching back to Socrates. Nietzsche sees Euripides as a precursor to Socrates, and calls for a return to earlier Greek tragedy.

• Course introduction: The purpose of Literary Theory in Antiquity and Early Modern Europe is to prime the question, “Why does literature matter?” This sequence will focus on how some of the major thinkers in the western tradition approach literature, and how it helps us think about human action (i.e. the relationship between aesthetics and ethics). How does literature relate to the true, the beautiful, and the good? Does it help or hinder human life on a personal and societal level? Each lecture topic stands alone, but is also in dialogue with the previous lectures.

• About Brian. Growing up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Brian first gained interest in the humanities through an involvement with theater in his youth. The sense of community cultivated during a theatrical production served to counterbalance a proclivity toward solitary philosophical reflection. He went to pursue a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, with a dissertation on Samuel Beckett and the philosopher Stanley Cavell.

• Class syllabus:

• Guidelines for Participation:


May 14
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


ENSO Winery
1416 Southeast Stark Street
Portland, US
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