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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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Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Fate of Tragedy

Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Fate of Tragedy

(p.161) Chapter 6 Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Fate of Tragedy
Genealogy of the Tragic

Joshua Billings

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). The Phenomenology treats tragedy both as a model for historical processes in ancient Greek society, and, for the first time, as a literary genre in its own right, with a particular historical place and cultural role within the Athenian polis. In both contexts, tragedy is the process through which loss becomes constructive, furthering the development of consciousness in and beyond antiquity. Yet Greek tragedy is also importantly limited for Hegel: both its content and its form have been rendered irrevocably past by the very historical transformations it represents. Hegel's theory of tragedy encompasses moments of both loss and gain, and the power of his appropriation in the Phenomenology results from the tension between the insight into historical necessity that tragedy offers on one hand and the emotion of sorrow that it brings with it on the other.

Keywords:   Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, tragedy, historical processes, literary genre, loss, consciousness, Greek tragedy, historical necessity

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