Le quattro cause della tragedia


The Four Causes of Tragedy

This paper aims to analyze one of the highest achievements of humankind, the classical tragedy, via the application of the heuristic paradigm proposed by Aristotle in his Physics, the fourfold determination of the concept of cause. This scientific methodology – one of the most effective viatica for a comprehensive response to the question of the nature of an object – informs the inquiry into the universal nature of tragedy, its hypercomplexity and hence its ethical and human relevance. Firstly, the concept of tragedy is dissected into its four causes – material, formal, efficient and final; given that the object of research is at the same time tragedy in general and this specific tragedy (i.e. the category and its case), each cause is subdivided in two, a distal one (if referred to the type) and a proximal one (if referred to the empirical object). Then, the methodology of the four causes is applied to the formal cause alone, the tragic conflict, in an attempt to better understand tragedy’s quiddity. The results of this more specific causal determination are finally applied to the four causes of tragedy, supporting the hypothesis of a close relationship between hybris, amartia, tragic conflict and education of the phronesis.

Keywords: Aristotle, tragedy, four causes, phronesis, hybris, amartia

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