The paradox of horror or the value of negative aesthetic experiences
Yücel, Uğur Eylül
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David Hume (1982) in Of Tragedy asks the question that how is it possible for audiences to get pleasure from disagreeable emotions? My dissertation addresses the contemporary version of the paradox of tragedy that raises the same aesthetic concern, that is, the paradox of horror. The question raised by the paradox of horror as follows: why do we like to experience horror art experiences we would normally avoid in real life? There are some replies to the paradox which explain the reason why in such a way that horror stories are about proving the existence of a monster that is disgusting and terrifying or some people can enjoy negative emotions if there is an understanding that people do not in general like negative emotions. In this dissertation, however, I offer a different standpoint. I argue that a rich account of our aesthetic enjoyment of horror art must take human emotional development into account. That is, the capacity for sympathy, which is an important part of our moral education, we have for others can be shaped and so developed by reading and watching tragedies. My dissertation focuses on 18th-century philosophers' arguments on sympathy with regards to the paradox of tragedy. After establishing whether sympathy helps us solve the paradox of tragedy, I apply the notion of sympathy to the paradox of horror by using Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as an example.