Tragedian etiikka

The Ethics of Tragedy

The starting point is that tragedy sets the question of justice in a fundamental way: what justice is in itself, what is the correct law and how it is possible for the human being to be right? Hegel's interpretation of tragedy in The Phenomenology of Spirit has dominated the modern theory of tragedy. However, I read tragedy through Friedrich Hölderlin, who will understand the essence of tragedy more fundamentally than Hegel. At first I concentrate on Hölderlin's attempt to write a modern tragedy, The Death of Empedocles. However, this attempt does not work out, and Hölderlin begins to translate Sophocles' tragedies Oedipus the King and Antigone. It is in these translations and in his remarks to them that Hölderlin's "theory" of tragedy is worked out. Hölderlin's "concepts" (tragic transport, caesura, categorical turn and native turn etc.) are elaborated in order to understand how – through Hölderlin – one is able to understand the question of justice in the tragedy. In the end, there is not one answer but five answers – which are intertwined – to the question of justice. They are expressed in 1) the tragic conflict, 2) the categorical turn, 3) Antigone's figure, 4) the caesura, and 5) the poet himself. I argue that Hölderlin opens a new "theory" of tragedy, which is actually yet to come.

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