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Genealogy of the TragicGreek Tragedy and German Philosophy$
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Joshua Billings

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159232

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159232.001.0001

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Revolutionary Freedom

Revolutionary Freedom

(p.75) Chapter 3 Revolutionary Freedom
Genealogy of the Tragic

Joshua Billings

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces the concept of freedom in revolutionary context, and argues that Greek tragedy was a privileged vehicle for the investigation of freedom within history. Two revolutions, the French and the Kantian, contributed to making the concept of freedom newly tragic for German thinkers of the 1790s. Far from undermining tragedy's contemporary importance, though, the new sense of historical singularity made tragedy even more necessary to philosophical definitions of modernity. Greek tragedy provided a lens for exploring questions of freedom as they related to the historical basis of individual and collective experience. The writings of F.W.J. Schelling and Friedrich Schiller consider the relation between freedom in ancient tragedy and the modern possibility of freedom with particular tenacity and insight. Their reflections, in turn, are taken up and applied by A.W. Schlegel and Gottfried Hermann, who elaborate ways of reading Greek tragedy as a genre fundamentally concerned with human freedom.

Keywords:   freedom, Greek tragedy, French Revolution, Kantian Revolution, historical singularity, modernity, F.W.J. Schelling, Friedrich Schiller, A.W. Schlegel, Gottfried Hermann

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