TRAGEDY AS POLITICAL THEORY: THE SELF-DESTRUCTION OF ANTIGONE'S LAWS

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Abstract:

This paper attempts to save Hegel's claim that tragedy involves mutual guilt on the part of the adversaries in the drama. More specifically, it is claimed that a reading interested in the political theory of tragedy has to work in a different way than has hitherto often been the case. For the claims regarding the 'subjectivity' of interpretation can be countered if the interpretation of the play is based on an internal critique, i.e. in a normative assessment proceeding from the principles stated by the adversaries themselves. Hence, it is argued that in Sophokles' Antigone not only Kreon, but also Antigone herself is inconsistent in her attachment to the bonds of philia, of the community of the 'one womb' that she wishes to protect. This implies that the tragedy itself shows the self-destructive nature of Antigone's 'laws' and that this normative reading can be developed out of the work of art itself.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Government, Uppsala Universitet, Box 514, SE 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden., Email: Johan.Tralau@statsvet.uu.se

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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