Bigger Than Life: Aristotle’s Ideal Hero
David K. O’Connor
University of Notre Dame
Professor of Philosophy and Concurrent Professor of Classics at the University of Notre Dame
As Aristotle understood dramatic poetry, the tragic hero is an idealization, intensification, and elevation of human agents. This idealization focuses on how action (praxis) constitutes success (eudaimonia) or failure. Through tragedy’s intense and elevated idealizations, we are brought to a peculiarly intimate satisfaction both emotional and cognitive. The distinctive cognitive satisfaction wrought by this intimacy makes tragedy more philosophical than history, as Aristotle said. But the cognitive satisfaction of tragedy does not collapse into philosophy’s satisfaction. I will develop this account of Aristotelian idealization with a view to Wagner’s music drama and Maritain’s aesthetic theory.
David K. O’Connor is Professor of Philosophy and Concurrent Professor of Classics at the University of Notre Dame, where he has been a faculty member since 1985. He is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Minor in Business and the Common Good in the Mendoza College of Business. Professor O’Connor held the 2020-21 Rev. Robert Randall Distinguished Professorship in Christian Culture at Providence College. His academic work is centered in ancient philosophy, moral philosophy, aesthetics, and Catholic thought.