Religion Past and Present

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(288 words)

[German Version]

the Greek term for “purification,” was employed systematically in Aristotle's poetics (Poet. 6): by producing pity (éleos) and fear (  phóbos) in the observer, the action portrayed leads to purification (kátharsis) from these affects. This assertion reflects the notion that the objectification of besetting emotions makes them manageable, as it were. Similar ideas lie behind the theology and practice of confession, although in the Middle Ages (and in Catholicism still today) they have been overlaid with the no…

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Heesch, Matthias, “Catharsis,”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 24 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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