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DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2009.00373.

A Theory of Tragic Experience According to Hegel


Julia Peters
Abstract: Hegels theory of tragedy is often considered to be primarily a theory of the objective powers involved in tragic conflictsfor Hegel, these are paradigmatically competing ethical notionsand of the rationality which underlies and drives such conflicts. Such a view follows naturally from a close reading of Hegels discussion of classical Greek tragedy in his Lectures on Aesthetics. However, this view gives rise to the question of whether Hegels theory of tragedy can account for the significance of tragic experience, in particular the experience of tragic suffering; it has been argued repeatedly that it cannot. In contrast, I want to suggest in this paper that a theory of tragic experience can be derived from Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit. This Hegelian theory of tragic experience, I argue, should be understood as complementing rather than challenging Hegels theory of objective tragic conflict. Oh Ive learned/through blood and tears! (Creon, Sophocles Antigone)

1. According to Hegels Lectures on Aesthetics, classical Greek tragedy typically revolves around a conflict between diverse ethical spheres which complement each other in the ethical life of the Greek polismost importantly, the sphere of the family on the one hand, and of political and public life on the other. Tragic protagonists are heroic individuals who identify with only one sphere of ethical life, and pursue their one-sided ethical purpose in an absolutist and uncompromising way, such that it excludes and conflicts with its complementary ethical force. In the very attempt to act ethically, they thereby end up not only acting unethicallybecause they are violating the complementary ethical law but moreover destroying themselves. Through this self-destruction, however, the original ethical unity of the polis is restored and affirmed, over and above a state of imbalance in which one-sided purposes are defended in an absolutist fashion. This abolition of one-sidedness and restoration of unity manifests a certain kind of justice. In coming to see a tragic play as a manifestation of such justice, its spectators can feel reconciled with the destruction of the tragic protagonist. More specifically, they can feel reconciled with the world that brings
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about his or her destruction, since, in doing so, this world proves to be fundamentally just.1 Following this representation of the Hegelian understanding of tragedy, it would seem that from Hegels point of view, the essential content of a tragic playthe content in virtue of which it is a tragedyis a conflict between equally justified ethical powers. In a tragic conflict, these powers enter a state of imbalance which is subsequently restored to balance. However, if this were correct, Hegels theory of tragedy would appear to be neglecting what is certainly one of the most important aspects of every tragic play: the experience which the tragic protagonist undergoes, in particular, his or her tragic suffering. The depiction of an individuals tragic suffering would seem to be accidental to tragedy. Moreover, according to Hegels theory, the value of tragic theatre for its spectators would be grounded solely in the rationality of the tragic conflict and its solution, and in the sense of reconciliation which the observation of such rational justice affords. But there would be nothing valuable, from Hegels point of view, in the spectators exposure to the tragic protagonists experience of suffering. The complaint that Hegels theory of tragedy fails to do justice to the fact that individual suffering belongs to the essence of the tragic, and that it is at least in part the spectacle of such suffering which makes tragic theatre valuable for us, has been made repeatedly. Thus in his classical piece Hegels Theory of Tragedy A. C. Bradley cautiously points out that Hegel might have been slightly neglecting the significance of the tragic protagonists experience of suffering: [Hegel] seems to be right in laying emphasis on the action and conflict in tragedy rather than on the suffering and misfortune. [. . .] But, sufficient connection with these agencies being present, misfortune, the fall from prosperity to adversity, with the suffering attending it, at once becomes tragic; and in many tragedies it forms a large ingredient, as does the pity for it in the tragic feeling. Hegel, I think, certainly takes too little notice of it; and by this omission he also withdraws attention from something the importance of which he would have admitted at once; I mean the way in which suffering is borne.2 In a similar vein, Sebastian Gardner, in his essay Tragedy, Morality and Metaphysics argues that Hegel fails to give a satisfying account of the value of tragedy. Gardner defends the view that at the heart of tragedy lies a subjects experience of his or her opposition to the objective world: tragedy is constituted by an experience modelled on the traditional, unmediated opposition of subject and object.3 It follows that if there is such a thing as tragic value, it must arise in relation to the subjective experience of the individual who faces the world in a tragic conflict. Now for Hegel, the value of tragedy is grounded in the rationality and justice of the solution to which tragic conflicts necessarily proceed, and the sense of reconciliation which the observation of such solution affords. However, this rational and just solution is not itself part of the tragic experience of the individual involved in tragic conflict. Therefore, Gardner concludes, Hegels theory fails to give a satisfying account of tragic value: [. . .] Hegel does not demonstrate the attunement of tragic and moral consciousness [i.e. the consciousness which observes and comprehends the rationality and justice of
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tragic conflict], if this is supposed to belong to the experience of tragedy, and not to be the result of subsequent, extraneous reflection on the experience. In order to know that, as Hegels account implies, tragic loss and suffering is not in vain and can be recuperated, we need to refer to Hegels speculative metaphysics [. . .]. Thus in the context of tragedy, if in no other, there appears to be reason for thinking that natural consciousness resists the upward movement towards the standpoint of speculative philosophy: all that Hegel may justifiably claim, therefore, is that his account describes the revisionary interpretation of tragedy which the speculative standpoint demands.4 There can be no doubt that Hegels theory of tragedy, as it is presented in the Lectures on Aesthetics, downplays the significance of tragic experience and tragic suffering, placing almost exclusive emphasis on tragic conflict and the particular logic underlying it. It would have to be considered a serious weakness of Hegels theory, however, if it had nothing substantial to say about the phenomenon of tragic experience. Gardner and Bradley are right to point out that the tragic protagonists experience is an essential part of tragedy. However, I would like to suggest that there is a way of both adhering to Hegels theory of tragedy, and escaping devastating criticism. This can be achieved, I shall argue in the following, by appreciating that Hegels theory of tragedy as it is presented in the Lectures on Aesthetics has its complement in a Hegelian theory of tragic experience, which can be derived from Hegels discussion of tragic conflict in the Phenomenology of Spirit. While the Phenomenology is in agreement with the Lectures regarding the paradigmatic constitution of tragic conflicts, it moreover presents a perspective on such conflicts which is absent from the Lectures, by bringing into view the peculiar nature of the experience of those individuals who are involved in them. More specifically, I shall try to show that the Phenomenology can be used as a basis for formulating a Hegelian theory of the peculiar nature of tragic suffering. According to the account I wish to propose, tragic experience consists for Hegel of two sequential elements. Tragic experience begins with alienation, followed by recognition. This recognition is self-recognition: recognition that what one previously considered alien or hostile is in reality ones own or part of ones identity. Such tragic self-recognition is achieved through suffering. By violating ones supposed enemy, one inflicts pain and suffering on oneself, and in feeling this pain, one realizes ones error and thereby comes to know ones own identity. Within this account, the value of a subjects tragic experience lies in the self-recognition which such experience affords; through tragic suffering, one achieves self-knowledge. This self-recognition has typically no reconciliatory effect, because it comes too late: it occurs only once one has inflicted devastating and irredeemable harm on oneself.

2. This account of tragic experienced just outlined can be developed, I shall now try to show, from Hegels reading of tragedy in sections a and b of the chapter entitled The true Spirit. The ethical order in his Phenomenology of Spirit.
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The Phenomenology represents the ascent from consciousness to Spirit, and it does this by on the one hand depicting how this ascent is experienced from the point of view of consciousness itself, and on the other hand revealing the dialectical logic which underlies this ascent, and which is not visible from the point of view of the ascending consciousness.5 The Introduction suggests that the ascending movement sets out from the assumption of an essential division between subject and objectwhich is later on seen as manifesting itself in all kinds of contexts, epistemological, ethical, religious etc.and culminates in the overcoming of this division after having attained the position of Science.6 However, the movement also occurs in the reverse order: as an ascent from an immediate unity of subject and object to a reflective division between the two. For Hegel, the world of the Greek polis of Athens and its ethical life is the paradigmatic manifestation of such an immediate unity of human subjectivity and objective world. In this respect, the Phenomenologys chapter on the Greek spirit is in accord with the portrait of the ancient Greek world which Hegel offers in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History,7 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion,8 and Lectures on the History of Philosophy.9 However, in contrast to the Lectures, the Phenomenology, since it is dedicated to the task of delivering the Science of the experience of consciousness,10 is concerned with depicting how the Greek citizens unity with the objective ethical order of the polis is experienced by the Greek individual him- or herself. According to the reading I wish to propose, the powerful thesis put forward and demonstrated in the Phenomenology is that within the world of the Greek polis, tragedy is the medium through which the identification of the Greek individual with the ethical order of the polis is turned from an immediate, quasi-natural unity into genuine knowledge. It is through tragic suffering that the Greek individual ascends from immediate to reflected identification with the ethical order. Thus the Phenomenology shows how tragic experience is an essential, or at least an integral part of the overall education and development of Spirit towards ultimate self-knowledge. The Phenomenologys account of tragic experience thus follows a complex analysis of Greek ethical life and the individual citizens relation to it in the section entitled The ethical world. Human and Divine Law: Man and Woman. On this basis, Hegel then develops and analyses in the following section (Ethical action. Human and Divine Knowledge. Guilt and Destiny) the tragic experience of one of the most famous protagonists of all of Greek tragedy: the heroine of Sophocles play Antigone. For Hegel, the world depicted in Sophocles play, and in Greek tragedy in general, reflects the essential political and ethical structure of the world in which these plays are performed and watched: the world of the polis. However, while this ensures that the Greek spectators of tragedy can identify with the tragic protagonists, the real world of the polis does not usually, at leastitself contain tragic heroes and tragic conflicts. Tragedy has an educational significance because the spectators can learn from the sufferings of the tragic protagonist without having to suffer themselves. At the heart of the ethical life of the Greek polis, on Hegels account, lies the identification of the citizen with the ethics of the polis. This is what Hegel calls
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the Greek citizens ethical disposition: they identify with the customary laws of the polislaws which are designed to foster the good of the political community as a wholeto the extent that they regard them as absolute ethical norms.11 They are therefore essentially ethical beings, citizens, and have no conception of the good as apart from the way it is defined by the ethical laws of the polis.12 This identification with the political community and its ethics is achieved through custom and habit. Greek individuals are educated in such a way that following the ethical laws of the polis becomes second nature for them, as Hegel puts it.13 Thus for them, the ethical laws of the polis assume the status of quasi-natural laws, which admit of no rational justification.14 This is why Hegel calls Greek ethical life beautiful: for the Greek citizen, it is natural, rather than just a burdensome duty, to behave ethically. His or her actions therefore manifest a perfect unification of spirit and nature;15 the unity of both is what beauty consists in for Hegel. In this aesthetic, immediate, non-reflective sense, Greek citizens are also free as participants of ethical life. For they are naturally disposed to follow the political laws; for them, following the laws of the polis is a natural disposition, rather than constraint. In Hegels reading, the figure of Antigone in Sophocles play is a perfect exemplification of the Greek citizens ethical disposition. She accepts the customary laws of the polis as authoritative without seeking to justify them rationally.16 However, the fact that these laws therefore have a quasi-natural validity for her is expressed in a more specific way in Sophocles play. In the ethical life Sophocles depicts (it is not clear whether Hegel thinks that this depiction is faithful even to the specific realities of the Athenian polis), the ethical roles that the citizens are supposed to perform are allocated on the basis of their sex, hence on a natural basis. The female role is associated with the family and burial rites, the performance of which is considered to be demanded by the gods of the underworld. Thus the ethical action of women represents the citizen with regard to his or her most existential features of being born and dying, as a pure human particularity in its most universal, eternal and unchanging nature. The sphere of the male citizen, on the other hand, is the political and public one, the sphere of laws created by humans, rather than eternal, existential law. The existence of these two ethical spheres is necessary and sufficient for the persistence of the polis; they complement each other: each preserves and brings forth the other.17 Hegel explains this by means of the terms of ground and purpose:18 The male, public, political sphere is the purpose of the citizens existence, since it represents the freedom of the polis, expressed in the citizens participation in political decisions, lawgiving and administration. The female, existential sphere, on the other hand, represents the eternal or divine aspects of human existence, birth and death, and is therefore the ground of the citizens existence. Both of these ethical spheres are justified only as complemented by the other; it is only in this way that they form an ethical whole, in which both the freedom of human beings, and their subjection to eternal, natural, divine laws is actualized. Consequently, as citizens perform distinct ethical actions, depending on their sex, they are thereby constituting a part of a larger ethical whole, to
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which the opposing ethical sphere is just as essential as the one they are themselves representing.

3. With the two ethical spheres complementing each other, the citizens life in the polis thus embodies a tranquil harmony, not only between the two ethical spheres, but also between the individual citizens and the polis as the ethical whole in which they reside. However, human error now disturbs and shakes this beautiful ethical life19this is where the tragic conflict begins. In regarding human error as an essential element in the emergence of tragic conflict, Hegels theory of tragedy has a strong Aristotelian component.20 Like in Aristotle, in Hegel this great mistake21 is not a moral transgression, but a lack of knowledge, in particular knowledge of ones own identity. Sophocles play Antigone, in Hegels reading, presents two central characters, who both commit this error. Creon, recently appointed king of Thebes, issues the decree that Polynices, Antigones brother who attempted to attack the city and usurp the throne, and was killed in the attempt, shall not be buried; because a traitors corpse is not to be honored through burial, but left to be devoured by dogs and birds. In issuing this decree, Creon shows obliviousness towards the divine necessity of burial; his political decree violates a divine law. Antigone, on the other hand, is determined to bury her brother in spite of Creons decree, because of her devotion to the divine law. She thereby proves to be ignorant of or at least negligent to the political necessity to punish traitors and to ostracize them from the ethical community. Creon is oblivious towards the divine, Antigone is oblivious towards the political.22 There follows a clash between Creon and Antigone. Antigone, denied any cooperation by her sister Ismene, goes ahead and performs the burial rights for her brother. She takes no precautions to hide her action;23 consequently she is sentenced to death by Creon. He decides that she is to be put to death by being walled up alive in a cave outside the city walls,24 rather than, as Antigone had envisaged in the beginning, through public stoning inside the city walls.25 However, before she is taken away alive to her own grave, Antigone faces the Chorus of old Theban citizens one more time. This scene is most remarkable, because it introduces the moment of Antigones self-recognition. In her great speech to the Thebans,26 Antigone pleads that she be recognized and, above all, remembered by her city as a heroine who died for a just, divine causealmost as a mythical figure.27 This is the expression of a wish she had been harboring all along: the wish for a noble death.28 However, one cannot have a noble death without cooperation by the city. To die a noble death means to be honored in and after ones death: to be honored publicly by the city. The point at which Antigone realizes that she is being denied a noble death by the citizens, that she is literally all alone and ostracized, is the point at which she breaks. No longer is she now the fiercely determined heroine, looking death into the eye without flinching. The
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death she is now facing is not the one she had been envisaging. Hers ought to have been a public, noble deathpublic stoning rather than being hidden in a cave outside the city, a heroines fame, rather than being wiped from public memory. Antigone now begins to lament her fate and, for the first time in the play, expresses genuine fear of death, and the wish to live. Only now does Antigones suffering begin. It is easily overlooked that as it turns to this point in Sophocles plot, Hegels analysis shifts its attention from the conflict between objective ethical powers to Antigones subjective tragic experience. However, in making this shift, Hegels analysis makes one of its most powerful observations, bringing out how closely Antigones suffering is linked to her self-recognition. Again, Hegels theory has a strong Aristotelian component here. For Aristotle, the tragic characters recognition is as essential to the tragic plot as his reversal of fortune,29 and a recognition is most beautiful when it comes to be at the same time as a reversal.30 This is precisely what occurs in Antigone. Her suffering, induced by the rejection of the citizens, makes her realize her political nature: she is a citizen of the polis, and being respected and recognized by the polis even in her death, is an essential part of her identity. It is the hope for such political respect which had been driving her actions all along, the hidden motive underlying them. This is what she had been oblivious to by conceiving of herself as a lone warrior for the divine law who defies the political sphere altogether. In reality, Antigone expects to be honored by the city, but as a fighter for the divine law. It is through her suffering, then, that Antigone realizes who she really is, and that she recognizes the political to be an essential part of her own ethical identity. But it is also at the moment of her self-recognition that Antigones fortune is reversed. Despite her depraved heritagebeing the offspring of an incestuous unionand her fatal decision to bury her brother, she remains a shining figure of unearthly resolution throughout the play, up to the point at which she realizes that she will not die a noble, but a lonely death. This is what Antigones reversal consists in: being transformed from a heroine into an outlaw. Hegel describes Antigones moment of self-recognition and acknowledgment of the political power as ethical, rather than hostile and alien, in the following way, quoting a line from Sophocles play: The ethical consciousness must [. . .] acknowledge its opposite as its own actuality, must acknowledge its guilt. Because we suffer we acknowledge we have erred. With this acknowledgment there is no longer any conflict between ethical purpose and actuality; it signifies the return to an ethical frame of mind, which knows that nothing counts but right.31 The first time Antigone feels genuine pain is when she finds herself deprived of political reward for her action. But it is through this pain that she for the first time realizes that she has such a political identity. Her suffering leads her to understand who she really is. However, this self-recognition and selfidentification with the polis is qualitatively different from the unity between citizen and polis which manifests itself in the unquestioning, quasi-natural participation of the citizens in the ethical order. Antigone is no longer a participant, but condemned to be ostracized from the city, hidden in a tomb
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outside the city walls. She has achieved knowledge of her political identity, but lost the right to participate in the ethical life of the polis through ethical action. Her painfully acquired self-knowledge thus has the form of unreality32 and mere sentiment or disposition (Gesinnung)33a mere frame of mind. One might object at this point that even if Antigone has to realize that she has betrayed and thwarted her political side, could she not still find courage in the fact that at least she remained faithful to the divine law throughout? However, it is important to note that as Antigone learns about her political identity, this changes her understanding of the divine and its law, too. In acknowledging the ethical legitimacy of the political, Antigone likewise accepts the political definition of the divine, the definition which is accepted and established in the polis.34 Antigone must therefore accept that she has not merely betrayed the political, but that in so doing, she has also betrayed the divine as ethical power. She thus feels that she has put herself in the situation of having severed her bonds both with the city and with the gods, of being totally abandoned: I have no home on earth and none below,/not with the living, not with the breathless dead.35 The insight that she has lost her ethical identity altogether is ultimately the reason why Antigone kills herself. It is noteworthy that Antigones changing relation with the divine law therefore follows roughly the dialectical model of experience which Hegel maps out in the Introduction to the Phenomenology. Antigone has a notion of what the divine law is in itself, but as she acts in accord with that notion, she realizes that her action is mixed with political motives. However, instead of holding on to her standard of the divine and acknowledging that her own action fails to meet it, she changes her standard, too, and now accepts the political definition of the divine.36 Antigones tragic experience then, to summarize, begins with her dedication to the divine law, which she understands as being in opposition to the law of the city.37 In acting in accord with the law as she understands it, she clashes with the political power and is sentenced to death. Realizing that she is being denied political reward for her supposedly pious action by the citizens of Thebes, she suffers, and therein realizes that in violating the political law, she has violated herself. She thus comes to recognize the political as an essential element of her own identity. Her alienation from the polis thereby turns out to be an alienation from herself. In realizing her political nature, and moreover accepting the political definition of the divine, Antigone returns to what Hegel calls the ethical frame of mind: she identifies herself again with the ethics of the polis. However, this identification is different from the immediate, unreflective, aesthetic unity of Greek citizen and polis which is constitutive of the traditional ethical order of the polis: it is reflected rather than immediate, and cognitive rather than practical. For Hegel, tragic experience thus follows the logic which underlies the experience of consciousness in general, as it is presented in the Phenomenology: it exemplifies a progression towards self-knowledge, of something which is initially merely in-itself becoming for-itself. Accordingly, in his introduction to the Phenomenologys account of the Greek spirit and its tragic self-recognition, Hegel summarizes this movement towards self-recognition, of which tragic
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experience is a part, in the following way: Spirit is the ethical life of a nation in so far as it is the immediate truththe individual that is a world. It must advance to the consciousness of what it is immediately, must leave behind it the beauty of ethical life, and by passing through a series of shapes attain to a knowledge of itself.38 On the one hand, this allows us to explain, within Hegels theoretical framework, why tragic theatre is central to the political life of Athens. Tragedy has an educational effect: it furthers the Athenian citizens knowledge of the nature of the ethical order of the polis and their own relation to it, hence their self-knowledge. In particular, it allows them to understand the ethical order as a unity of particular ethical powers, and themselves as being a part of that unity. But while the tragic protagonists have to learn this lesson by going through suffering, the Athenian citizens can gain the same insight by merely watching and identifying with the tragic protagonists.39 Their position is in this respect similar to that of the philosopher of the Phenomenology who follows and observes the upward movement of consciousness towards absolute knowledge, gaining insight into its identity without having to share its despair as it loses its truth. On the other hand, however, it seems that in Hegels view, tragic theatre is not merely affirmative of the Greek ethical order, but also contributes to its corrosion in the long run. While tragic experience culminates in self-recognition and return to identification with the ethical order, this identification is a higher-order one, no longer immediate and manifest in action, but cognitive and without immediate practical implication. Through tragic experience, then, the germ of destruction has been introduced into the ethical frame of mind: subjective reflection. It is only with the rise of the sophists and ultimately the seminal figure of Socrates, that this power develops the fully destructive force that will eventually make the ethical order of the polis implode. However, tragic theatre, too, while consolidating the ethical frame of mind, does so in a way which is at the same time destructive.

4. To return to the overall question of whether one can find in Hegel an account of the significance and value of tragic experience, according to the argument just outlined, tragic experience as it is expressed in classical Greek tragedy, and in particular tragic suffering, is an experience of self-recognition for Hegel: the experience of coming to know oneself through suffering. This gain of selfknowledge is the value of tragic experience from Hegels point of view. However, two important issues remain to be addressed at this point. One is the question of how Hegels theory of tragic experience, as it comes into view within the context of the Phenomenology, relates to his theory of tragic conflict, as it is presented in the Lectures on Aesthetics. It is clear that they cannot be considered as alternative or even incompatible theories, since both of them are present in the Phenomenology. However, it must be explained why Hegel offers us two different
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perspectives on the phenomenon of tragedy, and why the Lectures on Aesthetics focus on one of them exclusively. The other concern is that even if Hegel presents a convincing analysis of the tragic experience of Sophocles protagonist Antigone, does this theory of tragic experience apply to other tragic plays as well? And if so, would these be only ancient Greek tragedies, or could they be modern ones as well? I shall begin with the first concern, and conclude with some considerations regarding the second one. I would like to suggest that Hegels theory of tragic conflict on the one hand, and his theory of tragic experience on the other hand, ought to be understood as representing different perspectives from which the phenomenon of tragedy can be considered within Hegels system. Hegels Lectures on Aesthetics discuss art as a form of Absolute Spirit, as such to be placed alongside Religion and Philosophy.40 Hegel defines beautythe value he takes to be peculiar to artas the sensuous manifestation of the absolute Idea. In this sensuous form, the Idea is the Ideal, the unity of natural form and spiritual content.41 For Hegel, only the human figure can be an adequate sensuous, intuitable expression of spirit;42 the most important subject of all art is therefore the human being. By manifesting the reconciliation of spirit and nature, art affords us a sense of feeling at home in the world, and hence of reconciliation with the world we live in. In this sense, art is a part of Absolute Spirit, and shares its contentalthough not its formwith philosophy: through philosophical reasoning, we come to understand the rational and spiritual essence of the world, and are thereby reconciled with it through thought, rather than intuition.43 From the point of view of the Lectures on Aesthetics, it would therefore also be right to say that art manifests philosophical truth in a sensuous medium. However, while art manifests, in its sensuous medium, a unity of spirit and nature, philosophical reason understands nature as being ideal and hence spirit, in being unified with nature, as being unified with itself.44 In this way, the difference between the two forms impinges on their content.45 Against this background, we can understand why in the Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel looks at the phenomenon of tragedy, too, mainly with regard to how it can be understood as a manifestation of reconciliation and unity over and above discord and opposition. His thesis is that while Greek tragedy, on the one hand, shows us the self-destruction of heroic individuals pursuing one-sided interests, it demonstrates on the other hand the persistence and self-preservation of the ethical order or substance, as Hegel calls it.46 The negation of heroic but misguided ethical agents does not result in a state in which anything of ethical value has been destroyed. On the contrary, through this negation, genuine ethical order, a balance of mutually completing, rather than destroying ethical powers, is restored. For Hegel, it is in particular the Chorus which represents the self-preserving ethical substance: the Chorus persists as individuals perish: It [the Chorus] is the substantial which persists in its substantiality.47 In contrast, the self-recognition gained by the tragic individual through his or her suffering does not represent such a reconciliation and restoration of unity. While the tragic individual comes to recognize his or her essential unity with the ethical order, this insight is a mere Gesinnung. It does not itself imply or lead to a restoration of the ethical balance
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and substance, since the tragic individual has at this point irredeemably isolated and alienated him- or herself from the ethical order, and can no longer participate in or substantiate it in his or her actions. He or she has gained knowledge, but knowledge which is impractical, from which no actions can issue. On the premise, then, that the task of art is to demonstrate the persistence and reality of unity and reconciliation in a sensuous mediumis to exhibit, in the broadest sense, beautyit is obvious that tragedy will be significant as a form of art and of artistic value only as far as it can be seen and comprehended as an affirmation of the ethical substance and its beautiful balance, over and against the tragic individuals who purport to embody ethical powers, but destroy themselves in the attempt. Only in virtue of this affirmation can tragedy make a legitimate claim to belong in the category of art as a form of absolute spirit. Tragic experience, on the other hand, is significant and valuable because it furthers the education and development of consciousness towards self-knowledge; its natural place within Hegels system is therefore, as discussed above, in the Phenomenology of Spirit. Thus from Hegels point of view, tragedy can be seen both as a manifestation of the reality of reconciliation and affirmation of unity, and as a medium for self-knowledge.

5. In the Phenomenology, Hegels theory of tragic experience is developed from a close analysis of Sophocles play Antigone. But it is necessary to consider the scope of the theory at this point: does Hegels theory of tragic experience apply to Greek tragedy more generally, and to what extent is it compatible with modern tragedy? For Hegel, tragic experience as outlined above is particularly endemic to the world of the Greek polis. The Greek polis, according to Hegel, is based on a strong and immediate identification of individual citizens with the polis and its ethical order. Since self-alienation can only arise where there is unity to begin with, the polis and its relation to its individual citizens is in fact the perfect setting for the development of tragic experience from unity to alienation and back to self-identification.48 It is not only the character Antigone who undergoes this experience in her relation to the polis. In the same play, her counterpart Creon, the political mirror-image of her fanatically pious determination, comes to learn about his identity as father of a family in a painful way. As Antigone considers herself as wholly pious, Creon considers himself an all-political man, unaware of , is driven to the strength of his family bonds. His son Haemon, Antigones fiance commit suicide by a mix of grief over Antigones death, fury about his fathers mercilessness, and disgust at himself for having almost committed parricide. In a dramatical encounterwhich happens offstage and is only reported by a messengerHaemon raises his sword against his father, but misses him and, now in outrage about his own action, kills himself.49 As a consequence, Creons wife Eurydice stabs herself. It is only through these losses, and the pain they
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inflict, that Creon realizes he has not merely a political identity, but depends on his family, too.50 Another character of ancient Greek tragedy which it is obvious to mention at this point is the Oedipus in Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus. The feature which primarily defines Oedipus character in this play is his unstoppable will to know, to uncover the truth: he first solves the riddle of the Theban sphinx, then resolves to find the murderer of Laius, in order to set Thebes free from the grip of the plague. However, what he finds out as a result of his investigation is beyond his imagination: unknowingly, he himself has committed the murder of his father and moreover married his mother and fathered his own siblings. In his case, gaining self-knowledge means gaining knowledge of unspeakable monstrosities. Hegels own discussion of Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus in the Lectures on Aesthetics is sparse,51 and it is difficult to find a convincing way of making the play fit with Hegels interpretation of tragedy as manifestation of rational justice and reconstitution of ethical order. The main reason for this seems to be that the conflict which drives the plot of Oedipus is not a conflict between universal ethical powers which are embodied by individuals and which persist beyond the destruction of these individuals. Rather, in Oedipus, we are faced with a conflict within Oedipus himself: a crucial aspect of his own identity is concealed to him, and the play shows him struggling to come to know this aspect. The plot culminates with Oedipus self-recognition, but this self-knowledge is achieved by such terrible sufferingnot, however, the death of Oedipusthat it would be highly implausible to see this culmination as a restoration of balance and order. Oedipus survives, but nothing is in order with him, nor will it ever be in order again. However, if one focuses on the peculiar experience and suffering which Oedipus undergoes in the course of the play, an interpretation in accord with Hegels theory of tragic experience comes into view. According to this interpretation, Oedipus act of blinding himself at the end of the play constitutes the very culmination of the entire plot, the point at which the unraveling of its knot is complete: that is to say, the point at which Oedipus finally achieves selfknowledge. A recurring theme within the play is different forms of knowledge: knowledge through hearing, through sight, through reasoning. Tiresias the seer is in fact blind; and throughout the play, as he pursues his investigations, Oedipus relies much more on his skills of hearing and reasoning, rather than seeing. He dismisses Teiresias even though the latter speaks the truth, and abuses him because of his blindness;52 he boasts that when he solved the riddle of the Sphinx, it was the flight of [his] own intelligence which hit the mark;53 and by relying on a rumor and a simple mathematical equation, he tries to prove that he cannot be guilty of having killed his father.54 However, when Oedipus eventually gouges out his own eyes, this is not merely an expression of his frustration with how useless they have been for him.55 Rather, the content of the self-knowledge he is about to acquire is of such a kind that it can properly be known only through suffering. It is too dark to hear, to see,56 unspeakable,57 not to be repeated.58 No ordinary form of knowledge is adequate for this content: one can neither speak of it (and hence think it), nor hear it, nor see it. This is not just because Oedipus
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crimes are too abominable to be grasped in any conventional way. Rather, they are moreover associated with a side of Oedipus which he had been systematically oblivious towards throughout the play: his actions. Oedipus had been trying to identify himself almost exclusively through his intellectual faculties, his reason and intelligence, and the knowledge these two faculties afford.59 The plot of the play itself is the story of an investigation, and when Oedipus refers to his past actions, he refers to his feat of having solved the riddle of the Sphinxagain, a feat of knowledge and intelligence. What he neglects is his physical identity, as it were: the one which he acquires, and more importantly, has acquired, through his actions. In order to make himself truly aware that he has committed the deeds he learns about, that he has a physical identity, he must violate his body, and recognize his identity with it through the pain he feels. Tragic knowledge, self-knowledge through suffering, thus steps into the place of ordinary perceptual knowledge, knowledge through sight (in fact, Oedipus says he would have stopped his ears, too, if only it was possible).60 Like Antigone, then, Oedipus attains self-knowledge through suffering; the difference is that in his case, the suffering is voluntarily self-inflicted.61 In raging against the one who has committed the crimes of murdering his father and defiling the city of Thebes, he rages against his own physical self, and thereby forces upon himself the knowledge that he is not just an intellectual being, but someone who acts and has acted, has committed deeds.62 In Oedipus, we can see even more obviously than in Antigone that tragic selfknowledge, since it is attained through suffering, has a twofold nature. On the one hand, since it consists in self-recognition, it constitutes a return to selfidentity, retrieval of oneself. On the other hand, since this is achieved through the suffering arising fromintentional or unintentionalself-violation, it obstructs and renders impossible at the same time any form of genuine reconciliation with oneself; the harm which makes this knowledge possible is irredeemable. With the example of Oedipus tragic experience, it becomes obvious that the self-recognition achieved through tragic suffering need not consist in a selfidentification with an existing ethical whole, such as the polis in Antigones case. However, on the other hand, the self-knowledge which Oedipus acquires is not knowledge of a mere contingency, of some random character-trait or particular detail of his past life. Rather, Oedipus is forced to acceptor forces himself to acceptthat he has a physical, practical identity, not just an intellectual one.63 More generally, then, it seems that tragic self-recognition always takes as its content an essential feature of human identity, something which cannot be left out in the constitution of a self.64

6. If tragic experience as it occurs in classical Greek tragedy furthers self-knowledge through suffering, is this also true, from Hegels point of view, of the experience undergone by the protagonists of modern tragedy?
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For Hegel, what sets the modern age apart from antiquity is above all the principle of subjective freedom:65 the modern individual demands to find their own particular interests satisfied, rather than identifying their own good immediately with the good as defined by the political community, the polis. This also means that the modern subject does not accept or succumb to the claims of any external authority, such as the polis and its objective ethical laws. Rather, for the modern subject, all absolute authorities, norms or ends will be inward: love, [. . .], the eternal salvation of the individual as an end, etc.; morality and conscience.66 Consequently, in the central focus of modern tragedy stands an individual subject and his or her particular interests and convictions based on love, religious faith or moral conscience. Modern tragedies, for Hegel, are based on conflicts between such convictions, values and interests of one individual. It follows from this that the conflict represented in a modern tragedy cannot culminate in a complete reconciliation of objective ethical powers, or a restoration of the ethical substance of the polis, as Hegel takes it to be typical of classical tragedy. In classical Greek tragedy, the ethical substance of the polis survives the self-destruction of the tragic heroes; it is, according to Hegels interpretation, represented by the Chorus. In modern tragedy, the conflicting convictions and interests of the tragic hero are not necessarily reflected or embodied in external institutions and powers (although this may be the case; the heros own conscience may for instance be reflected in an enemys army which comes to his destruction). Thus if the hero perishes as a result of the tragic conflict, this does not need to imply a restoration of objective order and balance beyond the heros death. Moreover, the interests and convictions which make up the modern tragic heros conflict, are not necessarily, or not even typically ethical ones in the sense that they constitute and underlie the order of a political community, such as the principle of the family and the public, political law in the Greek polis. Rather, they are peculiar to this particular individual, and often enough they are even immoral interests. Hence in modern tragedy, the tragic hero can be a villain.67 Most importantly in our context, however, since modern tragedy arises in a world governed by the principle of subjectivity, modern tragic experience, as a rule, is unlikely to have quite the same structure as the experience undergone by the protagonists of classical Greek tragedy. The modern tragic individual no longer needs to acquire greater self-consciousness through tragic suffering. Rather, according to Hegel, he or she is already fully aware of his or her subjective individuality, and even in most cases reconciled with his or her character traits, and the actions and fate resulting from them. Unlike the classical tragic protagonist, the modern one typically acts in full consciousness of his own identity. A figure such as Shakespeares Richard III, for instance, is motivated by nothing than ambition and a certain perverse pleasure in brutality, and knows this to be the case; unlike Antigone, Creon or Oedipus, Richard III does not learn anything about himself through his actions or experiences. I would like to suggest, howeverto some extent going beyond Hegels own discussion of modern tragedy in the Lectures on Aesthetics in this respectthat from Hegels point of view, the self-knowledge of the modern subject is not
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necessarily so complete as to preclude his or her undergoing an experience which is structurally similar to that of the protagonists of classical Greek tragedy. As we saw above, tragic experience is the experience of acquiring self-knowledge through self-inflicted suffering: a suffering which arises from ones erroneously conceiving as alien or hostile what is in reality part of ones own identity. It seems to me that from Hegels point of view, the modern individual may be subjected to this kind of experience in two different ways. On the one hand, Hegel thinks that it is one of the most poisonous tendencies of modern thought in general to hold on to a strict opposition between subject and object; it is in this opposition, and the urgent desire to overcome it, in which the need for philosophy originates.68 Moreover, as the Phenomenology sets out to show, this opposition is not only selfimposed by the subject, but it initiates a series of painful experiencesthe pathway of despair Hegel speaks of in the Introduction of the Phenomenology in the course of which the subject learns that what it considered to be in opposition to itself, the object, is in reality part of the subject. Hence to the extent that the Phenomenology, in part at least, relates the experiences of modern consciousness, tragic experience of the kind outlined above cannot be entirely alien to the modern subject. On the other hand, even with regard to his or her own individual, subjective character and identity, the modern individual may not always be in possession of full self-knowledge, and may have to learn about him- or herself in a painful and tragic way. I would like to conclude by briefly suggesting how one might read Shakespeares figure of Macbeth along these lines. Macbeth, a successful general in the Scottish kings army, is driven by ruthless ambition, encouraged by his wife, to become king. In order to achieve this, he, together with his wife, murders Duncan, the present king; later on, because of his suspicions that they may obstruct his aims, he arranges the murder of Banquo, and the wife and children of Macduff. The bloodiness of Macbeths deeds, and the coldblooded calculation with which he arranges them, makes him a terrifying character. However, while Macbeth progresses towards his aim by shedding the blood of innocents and causing unspeakable grief and pain, in Shakespeares play he himself is the one who suffers mostor rather, whose suffering the play is most concerned with. Macbeth suffers because he knowingly [makes] mortal war on his own soul,69 as Bradley puts it. Macbeth is tortured by his own conscience which abhors his deeds. This becomes most obvious with his first murder, the murder of king Duncan. The scene which precedes the murder (Act I, Scene VII) opens with a monologue of Macbeth, in which he reminds himself of his feelings of loyalty and friendship for the king. Moreover, he ponders that the murder will be all the more abominable because of the kings great virtues: his virtues/Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongud, against/the deep damnation of his taking-off.70 However, as long as Macbeths scruples are merely the object of his theoretical reflections, they have no strong impact on him; consequently, Lady Macbeth manages to dissolve his doubts quickly, and Macbeth changes his mind and gives in. But this scene shows, as Bradley puts it, how little [Macbeth] knows himself.71 It is only after he has committed the murder, that Macbeth learns how
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powerful the appeal of his own conscience is in reality. It begins to torture him in the form of his own imagination:72 he hears voices crying Sleep no more, and has visions of an ocean of blood, dyed red by his own hands.73 Having been offended in the most violent way, Macbeths conscience strikes back with its most powerful weapon, Macbeths own rich and ceaseless imagination. The pain which this weapon inflicts on him forces Macbeth to acknowledge the reality of his own conscience. However, this realization comes too late to have any bearing on Macbeths action. Already after the murder of Duncan, Macbeth believesor rather, represents to himself in graphic images such as the one of the ocean of bloodthat his guilt is too great to be ever redeemed. Macbeth realizes that for him, there is no return to a sane and peaceful state of mind. After having murdered Banquo, he declares: I am in blood/Steppd in so far, that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go oer.74 In this respect, then, Macbeth is similar to Antigone and Oedipus: he learns a painful lesson about himself, but this insight comes too late and therefore remains a mere Gesinnung, having no bearing on Macbeths future course of action, and contributing in no way to his reconciliation or redemption. Macbeths experience therefore exemplifies the Hegelian structure of tragic experience outlined above: Macbeth acquires self-knowledge through suffering, but for the prize of inflicting irredeemable harm on himself (and, of course, on others). This Hegelian perspective on the tragedy of Macbeth may also point towards an answer to a question which is particularly urgent with regard to the figure of Macbeth: is there anything of value being affirmed in this dreadful spectacle of a villain destroying the lives of innocents, and finally destroying himself? And if not, why do we appreciate watching it? The Hegelian answer, according to the interpretation I am suggesting, would be that Macbeth attains a substantial piece of self-knowledge through the sufferings he subjects himself to. He probably would not have attained this self-knowledge, were it not for his pain. There is thus something of value being affirmed in the spectacle of Macbeths selfinflicted suffering: his achievement of self-knowledge. Of course it remains questionable, however, whether the value of Macbeths self-knowledge is substantial enough to compensate for the suffering of others which is necessary for it to be attained.

7. To conclude, then: Hegels system considers tragedy from two different points of view. One is the point of view presented in the Lectures on Aesthetics. Hegel here considers tragedy as a conflict between complementary ethical powers which enter a state of imbalance due to human error, and whose balance is restored through the destruction of the individuals in whom the imbalance is embodied. From the point of view of the Lectures, then, tragedy is significant in so far as it manifests the reconciliation of previously conflicting ethical powers. The other point of view is the one which emerges when Hegel presents the tragic collision
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between two ethical powers within the context of the Phenomenology of Spirit. In this context, tragic conflict comes to be associated with a peculiar type of experience suffered by the individuals involved in such conflicts. This experience, I argued above, is the experience of gaining self-knowledge through the suffering which arises from self-alienation. Such self-knowledge, too, implies a certain kind of reconciliation with oneself. But since it is acquired only for the price of significant harm and suffering, it comes too late in order for the individual who achieves it to enter a state of genuine, livable reconciliation. According to my argument, then, the charge that Hegels theory of tragedy is oblivious to the significance of tragic experience and suffering appears unjustified. Hegels theory of tragic experience, which comes into view in the context of the Phenomenology, should be seen as an essential complement to his theory of tragic conflict.75 Julia Peters European College of Liberal Arts Berlin Germany j.peters@ecla.de

NOTES
1 For an excellent account of Hegels understanding of the essence of tragic conflict, see Houlgate 2007: 146178. 2 Bradley 1961: 812. 3 Gardner 2002: 242. 4 Gardner 2002: 243. 5 See PG: 87, 88, 89. 6 See PG: 80, 82. 7 VPG: Especially 275338/LPH: 232289. 8 VPR: Esp. 96154/LPR: 455498. 9 VGP: Esp. 441515/LHP: 384448. 10 PG: 88. 11 See VPG: 30710/LPH: 260266; VGP: 469/LHP: 408. 12 See VGP: 469470/LHP: 408/9. 13 See PR: 151; VGP: 469/LHP: 408; VPG: 308/LPH: 261/62. 14 See PR: 144. 15 See VPG: 308/LPH: 261/2. 16 See PR: 144 Add. 17 PG: 463. 18 PG: 439. 19 PG: 441. 20 See Aristotle, Poet.: 33/34. 21 Aristotle, Poet.: 33/34. 22 See PG: 466, 467. 23 Seth Bernadete has pointed out that Antigones actions have a peculiarly ostentatious, symbolical air: she does not even do so much as burying her brother, but

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merely sprinkles some dust over his corpse, which is enough for her purpose. See Bernadete 1999: 16,17. Furthermore, even in her first exchange with her sister Ismene, Antigone derides Ismene when she implores her to keep her decision secretone should do the opposite, Antigone exclaims. See Sophocles, Ant.: 64 [8699]. 24 See Sophocles, Ant.: 100 [76680]. 25 Sophocles, Ant.: 60 [1836]. 26 Sophocles, Ant.: 102/103 [80671]. 27 Antigone compares herself to the mythical figure of Niobe, see Sophocles, Ant.: 102/103 [80671]. This comparison is being rejected and ridiculed by the assembled Thebans. 28 See Sophocles, Ant.: 84 [498512]. 29 See Aristotle, Poet.: 3031. 30 Aristotle, Poet.: 30. 31 PG: 470/471. 32 PG: 471. 33 PG: 471. 34 While Antigone fights in the spirit of her anti-political interpretation of the divine law, the seer Teiresias, in contrast, functions as a mediator between the divine and the ends of the polis, working as a religious adviser to Creon. Accordingly, even though representing the divine like Antigone, Teiresias shows no particular sympathy or understanding for her. His way of relating to the divine is contrary to Antigones: unlike her, he is aware from the beginning that the divine is to be integrated into the polis, rather than held in opposition to it. 35 Sophocles, Ant.: 103 [83971]. 36 See PG: 66. 37 It must be emphasized, again, that Antigone is not the only one in the play who is painfully wrong about her own ethical dispositions and identity. If this were the case, her obliviousness towards the political would not have been fatal. However, Creon, her political counter-part, shares her error in a reverse way, as it were. Through his decree not to bury Polynices, and by punishing Antigone for doing so nevertheless, Creon defines the political as standing in opposition to the divine law. It is therefore not merely Antigone who wrongly conceives of the divine as being opposed to the political, but it is the political power, on the other hand, which conceives of itself as standing in conflict with the divine law. It is only because the error is shared on both sides, that a genuine clash and destruction occurs. 38 PG: 441. 39 Again, Hegels theory is close to Aristotles in this respect. The Athenian spectators of tragedy will pity the protagonists for their suffering, they will identify with themin the sense that they see them as citizens of a polis (even if not of Athens, but rather Thebes or Troy for example) and participants of an ethical order which is similar to their own and therefore fear that they might encounter a similar fate. The experience of seeing the tragic hero suffering has therefore a kind of cathartic effect on them, although this must be understood in a slightly different way than in Aristotle. Not only will they be purged of pity and fear, but they will have learned something about their own identity and relation to the polis which will make them refrain from courses of action that will end in tragic collisions. See Aristotle, Poet.: 17/18. See also Aesth.: 228229, where Hegel emphasizes that he would like to qualify Aristotles doctrine. Genuine fear, Hegel argues here, must be fear of an ethical power which is not external to [man], but a part of his own reason and freedom. Similarly, the form of pity which is relevant and appropriate for tragedy is the

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spectators sympathy with and admiration for the individual who identifies with the ethical power, rather than simply compassion for any suffering creature. 40 See Aesth.: 3234 41 See Aesth.: 3840; Enz.: 556. 42 See Aesth.: 3840, Enz.: 558, 411. 43 See Aesth.: 34. 44 See Enz.: 556, 557. 45 See Enz.: 556, 557. 46 See Aesth.: 227. 47 Aesth.: 231. 48 See Schmidt 2001: 112. 49 See Sophocles, Ant.: 122 [120636]. 50 At first sight, Creon appears to represent something like a unity of the affirmative, reconciliatory significance of tragedy, and the self-recognition acquired through tragic suffering. Creon, after all, makes attempts to reverse his course of action and set Antigone free before it is too late; he is persuaded to do so by Teiresias, the mediator between the city and the gods. This could be understood as an effort on Creons part to restore and reestablish the ethical order of the polis through his actions. However, Creons actions are half-hearted. It is only when his family is affected that the hit strikes home, that he finally understands and acknowledges his mistake. But once that has happened, Creon is paralyzed: I dont even existIm no one. Nothing., he laments. (Sophocles, Ant.: 126 [130125].) 51 See VAe: 545/LAe: 1214 52 See Sophocles, Oed.: 181 [370379]. 53 Sophocles, Oed.: 181 [380407]. 54 Sophocles, Oed.: 208, [84262]. 55 Sophocles, Oed.: 237 [126385]. 56 Sophocles, Oed.: 239 [12971312]. 57 Sophocles, Oed.: 240 [131328]. 58 Sophocles, Oed.: 238 [128696]. 59 Seth Bernadete comments on this trait of Oedipus in the following way: Oedipus knowledge is divorced from his own body, but the crimes he committed are bodily crimes. His crimes have their origin in the privacy of the body . . . , and they are detected through his body; but his own lack of privacy, which perfectly accords with the absence of all desires in Oedipus, leads him to look away from the body. He somehow is pure mind (Bernadete 2000: 76). 60 Sophocles, Oed.: 243 [136997]. 61 Although it may be argued that Antigone, too, knows exactly what she is heading for as she decides to bury Polynices; still, while she knows for certain that she will die, she is still surprised by what kind of death awaits herand as we saw, this makes all the difference. 62 Stephen Houlgate suggests an interpretation according to which the plot of Oedipus can be read in accord with Hegels theory of tragic conflict: as manifesting an antagonism between two equally justified ethical powers which enter, due to human error and misguided action, a state of imbalance which is subsequently returned to balance. But in this case, the ethical powers are not, as in Antigone, the family and the state, but rather, on the one hand, the right to know, and on the other hand, the right of the unknown, the unconscious. Oedipus is engaged in a relentless hunt for knowledge, and neglects the possibility that there are things which would better be left unknown, and whose

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knowledge will cause him harm. Continuing to ignore this principle, the right of the unknown, he presses further, to be eventually faced with the horrible truth. His atrocious self-mutilation can then be understood as an attempt to give due to the right of the unknown, the unconscious: in blinding himself and thereby closing off the most important source of self-knowledge, he acknowledges the power of the unknown. (See Houlgate 2007: 156158.) However, while it is possible to find evidence for this interpretation in Hegels Lectures on Aesthetics, it is not entirely convincing. For the reasons suggested above, it does not seem right to describe Oedipus self-recognition and self-mutilation as a restoration of a state of order and balance. Oedipus comes to recognize himself, but this does not reconcile the conflicting aspects of his identity. Moreover, I would suggest that Oedipus conflict is one between his intellectual and physical or practical identity, rather than between the principle of the wide awake consciousness, and the principle of the unknown or subconscious on the other hand. If my reading is right, then Oedipus hamartia does not lie in his excessive concern with knowledge and neglect of the importance of ignorance, but rather in the particular ignorance which his apparent obsession with knowledge is paired with: Oedipus lacks self-knowledge. 63 Moreover, just like Antigone realizes that piousness amounts to nothing unless it respects political laws, Oedipus realizes that a purely intellectual form of knowledgea knowledge which is only based on non-corporeal evidence, and remains ignorant of the knowers own physical identityis not just a limited kind of knowledge, but no knowledge at all. That is to say, rather than holding on to a purely intellectual and nonpersonal knowledge as a standard even after having realized that the knowledge which is required in his own case does not conform with it, he abandons the standard altogether. After having become aware of his disastrous lack of self-knowledge, Oedipus no longer conceives of himself as a knowerand since his previous identity was exclusively based on his knowledge, this means that he is reduced to nothingness. 64 In PR: 118, Hegel states, however, that the willingness and necessity to identify oneself with ones actions, independently of whether they have been committed with full intention or not, is peculiar to heroic consciousness, and alien to us moderns. Heroic consciousness, moreover, is essential to tragedy because such consciousness does not shy away from suffering as long as it is a consequence of ones own actions, but embraces it fully. 65 PR: 124 add. 66 PR: 124 add. 67 This contrasts with Aristotles demand that the tragic heroes should not be distinguished by vice and wickedness, but should rather be in the middle between the particularly virtuous, and the particularly wicked man; see Aristotle, Poet.: 33. 68 Differenz: 21/Difference: 89. 69 Bradley 1956: 359. 70 Shakespeare, Macb.: 44. 71 Bradley 1956: 357. 72 Bradley 1956: 357. 73 Shakespeare, Macb.: 62. 74 Shakespeare, Macb.: 112. 75 I would like to thank Stephen Houlgate for inspiring discussions on the topic, and Gernot Mueller and an anonymous referee for extremely helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank my students at the European College of Liberal Arts Berlin, Fall Term 2008, for their contributions and discussions, and Cristina Groeger for proofreading.

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Works by Hegel Hegel, G. W. F. (2004), Philosophie der Kunst oder Aesthetik. Muenchen: Fink (Aesth.). (1996), Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie, in G. W. F. Hegel, Jenaer Schriften, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp (Differenz). Translation: (1977), The Difference between Fichtes and Schellings System of Philosophy, trans. H. S. Harris and W. Cerf. Albany: State University of New York Press (Difference). (1991), Enzyklopaedie der Philosophischen Wissenschaften (1830). Hamburg: Meiner. Translation: (2007), Hegels Philosophy of Mind, trans. M. Inwood. Oxford: Clarendon Press (Enz.). (1988), Phaenomenologie des Geistes. Hamburg: Meiner. Translation: (1977), Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press (PG). (1986), Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Translation: (2007), Elements of the Philosophy of Right, trans. H. Nisbett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (PR). (1986), Vorlesungen ueber die Aesthetik III. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp (VAe). Translation: (1998), Hegels Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T. M. Knox, Oxford: Oxford University Press (LAe). (1986), Vorlesungen ueber die Geschichte der Philosophie I. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp (VGP). Translation: (1999), Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Vol. I, reprinted from the 1892-5 edition, trans. E. S. Haldane. Bristol: Thoemmes Press (LHP). (1986), Vorlesungen ueber die Philosophie der Geschichte. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp (VPG). Translation: (1878), Lectures on the Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree. London: George Bell & Sons (LPH). (1986), Vorlesungen ueber die Philosophie der Religion II. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp (VPR). Translation: (2007), Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, Vol. II, ed. by Peter C. Hodgson. Oxford: Oxford University Press (LPR).

Other Sources: Aristotle (2002), On Poetics, S. Bernadete and M. Davis. South Bend, IN: St. Augustines Press (Aristotle, Poet.). Bernadete, S. (1999), Sacred Transgressions: A Reading of Sophocles Antigone. South Bend, IN: St. Augustines Press. (2000), Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus, in S. Bernadete, The Argument of the Action. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Bradley, A. C. (1956), Shakespearean Tragedy. London: Macmillan. (1961), Hegels Theory of Tragedy, in A. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. dez and S. Gardner Gardner, S. (2002), Tragedy, Morality and Metaphysics, in J. L. Bermu (eds), Art and Morality. London: Routledge. Houlgate, S. (2007), Hegels Theory of Tragedy, in S. Houlgate (ed.) Hegel and the Arts. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Shakespeare, W. (2001), Macbeth. Cadolzburg: ars vivendi (Shakespeare, Macb.).

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Schmidt, D. (2001), On Germans and Other Greeks. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Sophocles (1984), Antigone, in The Three Theban Plays, trans. R. Fagles. New York: Penguin (Sophocles, Ant.). Sophocles (1984a), Oedipus, in Sophocles (1984), The Three Theban Plays, trans. R. Fagles. New York: Penguin (Sophocles, Oed.).

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