top of page

Mysite Group

Public·244 members
Elisha Roosters
Elisha Roosters

Zapffe’s Philosophy Of The Tragic: A Critical Analysis (PDF, 12 Pages) !!INSTALL!!

Zapffe on the Tragic: A Critical Analysis (PDF, 12 pages)

Peter Wessel Zapffe was a Norwegian philosopher and writer who developed a pessimistic and nihilistic view of the human condition. He argued that humans are over-evolved creatures who suffer from a tragic mismatch between their consciousness and their biological nature. In his book On the Tragic (1941), he sketched a theory of the human condition where the meaning of life plays a decisive role together with the human capacity for self-deception, isolation, anchoring, and sublimation.

Zapffe’s Philosophy of the Tragic: A Critical Analysis (PDF, 12 pages)

Download Zip:

In this article, we will provide a critical analysis of Zapffes philosophy of the tragic, focusing on his main arguments, concepts, and implications. We will also compare and contrast his views with those of other pessimists and nihilists, such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Emil Cioran, and Thomas Ligotti. We will examine the strengths and weaknesses of Zapffes theory, as well as its relevance for contemporary society and culture.

The Tragic Human Condition

Zapffes main thesis is that humans are tragic beings who are unfit for life. He claims that humans have evolved a level of consciousness that exceeds their biological needs and capabilities. This creates a fundamental disharmony between their inner and outer worlds, which leads to existential anxiety, boredom, despair, and meaninglessness. Zapffe writes:

"The tragedy of a species becoming unfit for life by over-evolving one ability is not confined to humankind. Thus it is thought, for instance, that certain deer in paleontological times succumbed as they acquired overly heavy horns. The giantism of dinosaurs may have been their undoing. The evolution of consciousness in humans seems to have accentuated the breach between being and environment."

Zapffe argues that humans are aware of their own mortality, finitude, insignificance, and absurdity. They are also aware of their inability to find a satisfactory answer to the question of why they exist and what they should do with their lives. He calls this awareness the paradox of wonder. He writes:

"In a famous passage in his Pensées Pascal writes: Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature; but he is a thinking reed. There is no need to accentuate the point that Pascal wished to make here. But it is obvious that in this thinking reed we have before us an example of what we have called the paradox of wonder. For it is not so much mans weakness as such that gives rise to wonder; it is rather that this weakness belongs to one who thinks."

Zapffe believes that humans are unable to cope with their tragic condition without resorting to various forms of self-deception and escapism. He identifies four main methods that humans use to avoid facing the truth about themselves and their existence: isolation, anchoring, distraction, and sublimation.


Isolation is the method of limiting ones consciousness by ignoring or suppressing certain aspects of reality that are too painful or disturbing to acknowledge. Zapffe writes:

"By isolation I mean a fully arbitrary dismissal from consciousness of all disturbing and destructive thought and feeling."

Examples of isolation include denial, repression, rationalization, projection, dissociation, and selective attention. Zapffe argues that isolation is the most primitive and common method of coping with the tragic human condition. However, he also warns that isolation can lead to psychological problems such as neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, and depression.


Anchoring is the method of attaching ones consciousness to a fixed point or framework that provides stability, security, and meaning. Zapffe writes:

"By anchoring I mean any culture pattern (religious dogma; moral credo; national honor; personal status; standard ideology; etc.) which lends value judgments support from outside."

Examples of anchoring include religion, morality, nationalism, social roles, ideologies 04f6b60f66


Welcome to the group! You can connect with other members, ge...


bottom of page