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200 × 120 × 13 mm
176 pages
01 Mar 2016

A Philosophy of Tragedy Christopher Hamilton

A Philosophy of Tragedy explores the tragic condition of man in modernity. Nietzsche knew it, as have countless characters in literature, and the modern age places us squarely before it: the sheer contingency and instability of our existence, our homelessness, our unredeemed suffering, our fractured relation to morality.

Christopher Hamilton draws as much on literature, including the tragic theatre, as on philosophy to offer a stirring account of our tragic state. In doing so he explores the nature of philosophy itself, the ways it has been understood and its relationship to humanity. The book ranges from the debate over the ‘death of tragedy’ to a critique of modern virtue ethics, offers a new interpretation of the evil of Auschwitz and explores the work of thinkers who have seen our tragic being as inherently inconsolable. A Philosophy of Tragedy shows how tragedy has been and continues to be a crucial part of the modern human experience – one from which we should not avert our eyes.

‘humane, decent, gracefully written, and full of learning’ — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

A Philosophy of Tragedy aims for a perspective that will account for the permanent condition of tragedy and for the specific contours of tragedy today. This sets the book apart from a growing industry of more self-orientated accounts which seek to tell us how to find meaning in our fallen world. Its guiding question is not how can I find meaning in the world? but who am I as I write philosophy? (and by extension who am I as I read this book?). This implicates author and reader in the tragic view of life and makes us all take a seat at the adults table.’ — TLS

‘Hamilton treats philosophical ideas in a highly distinctive manner, similar to that in which critics write about literary texts: he aims to give a clearer and more intense sense of their lived value. He does so moreover with great skill, and in a way that restores the feeling of vertiginous wonder which lies at the origin of philosophy but which it almost always leaves behind. Hamilton shows how philosophical reflection on human life may bring us closer to, rather than drawing us away from, its object.’ — Sebastian Gardner, Professor of Philosophy, University College London

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Christopher Hamilton is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at King’s College London. He is the author of four books, including Living Philosophy: Reflections on Life, Meaning and Morality (2001) and How to Deal with Adversity (2014).


Introduction: Philosophy and Tragedy: A Personal View

1. Ontology

2. Pollution

3. Suffering

4. Virtue, Happiness and Morality

5. Among the Ruins

6. Some Final Thoughts