Aristotle on Compassion - Dictionary of Arguments
Gadamer I 135
Compassion/Aristotle/Gadamer: The representation [of tragedy] works through eleos and phobos. The traditional translation of these affects by "compassion" and "fear" suggests a far too subjective tone. Aristotle does not define these concepts at all as compassion or even as the changing value of compassion(1) over the centuries, likewise fear is not to be understood as a state of mind of interiority. Rather, both are experiences that attack and carry people away. "Eleos" is the lament that one experiences in the face of what we call lamentable.
The German word "Jammer" (engl. lament) is a good equivalent, because this word does not mean mere inwardness, but also its expression. Accordingly, "phobos" is not only a state of mind, but, as Aristotle says, a shiver(2) such that one's blood freezes, when a shiver is experienced.
1. Max Kommerell (Lessing and Aristotle) has meritoriously written this history of compassion, but has not distinguished the original meaning of it enough. Cf. inzwischen W. Schadewaldt, Furcht und Mitleid? Hermes 83, 1955, S. 129ff. and the addition through H. Flashar, Hermes 1956, S. 12—48.
2. Arist. Rhet. 11 13, 1389 b 32._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977