Tragedy's Philosophy
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Philosophy
Course Number: GPHI 6127
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Social Sciences
  • Philosophy
Philosophy, as a discursive invention, beginning with Plato, but extending along the millennia into the present, is premised upon the exclusion of tragedy and the exclusion of a range of experiences that we can call tragic. My claim in this lecture course will be that this exclusion of tragedy is, itself, tragic, and this is arguably philosophy's tragedy. I want to defend tragedy against philosophy, or, perhaps better said, that tragedy articulates a philosophical view that challenges the authority of philosophy. My general question is the following: what if we took seriously the form of thinking we could call it adversarial, conflictual or dialectical - that we find in Greek tragedy, and the experience of partial agency, limited autonomy, agonistic conflict, gender confusion, moral ambiguity and deep traumatic affect that it presents? How might that change the way we think and the way we think about thinking? Might that be tragedy's philosophy as an alternative to philosophy's tragedy? Might that be what Nietzsche meant when he described himself as the first 'tragic philosopher'? In addition to the texts of Attic tragedy (with a particularly obsessive emphasis on Euripides) and Gorgias (who will emerge as a kind of hero), we will read selections from Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Schelling, Nietzsche, and Heidegger before turning to more recent articulations of tragedy in Jean-Pierre Vernant, Bernard Williams, Terry Eagleton, Judith Butler, Anne Carson, and Bonnie Honig.
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions


Not open to Undergraduate students.