On the Tragic and its Limits
Is the tragic an adequate category for thinking about the
nature of contemporary conflicts, and their cycles of revenge, violence and
claims to justice and state legitimacy? Was 9/11 a tragedy? Is the
Israel/Palestine conflict tragic? Iraq? Afghanistan? The list goes on.
What is the nature of the tragic and what is questionable in
its constant invocation in the contemporary world? What is the availability of the tragic for us, as an aesthetic
genre, a mode of experience and a critique of the present?Are we perhaps approaching the limits of the tragic?
These are some of the general questions that will guide this
course. Based in a close, constant, but critical attention to the texts of
Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, we will examine philosophical
appropriations and misappropriations of the tragic in Rousseau, Hegel,
Schelling, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin, Arendt and others.
A persistent and common concern will be the question of
violence in relation to the constitution of the state and legality and the
stakes of a critique of violence in relation to the possibility of a
Judith Butler will lead 6 sessions and Simon Critchley will
lead 8 sessions with the possibility of one or two guest speakers.