Tragedy and Citizenship

Conflict, Reconciliation, and Democracy from Haemon to Hegel

By Derek W. M. Barker

Subjects: Political Theory, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Hegel, History Of Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791476307, 198 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791476291, 198 pages, November 2008

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Table of contents

Introduction: Conflict, Reconciliation, and Citizenship
1. Listening to Haemon: Citizenship in the Antigone
2. Pity, Fear, and Citizenship: The Politics of Aristotle’s Poetics
3. Hegel and the Politics of Reconciliation
4. Redescription as Reconciliation: Richard Rorty
5. John Rawls and Hegelian Political Philosophy
6. Judith Butler’s Postmodern Antigone
Conclusion: Tragedy, Citizenship, and the Human Condition

A study of attitudes towards tragedy in both democratic and nondemocractic political theory.


Tragedy and Citizenship provides a wide-ranging exploration of attitudes toward tragedy and their implications for politics. Derek W. M. Barker reads the history of political thought as a contest between the tragic view of politics that accepts conflict and uncertainty, and an optimistic perspective that sees conflict as self-dissolving. Drawing on Aristotle's political thought, alongside a novel reading of the Antigone that centers on Haemon, its most neglected character, Barker provides contemporary democratic theory with a theory of tragedy. He sees Hegel's philosophy of reconciliation as a critical turning point that results in the elimination of citizenship. By linking Hegel's failure to address the tragic dimensions of politics to Richard Rorty, John Rawls, and Judith Butler, Barkeroffers a major reassessment of contemporary political theory and a fresh perspective on the most urgent challenges facing democratic politics.

Derek W. M. Barker is a program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

Derek W. M. Barker is a program officer at the Kettering Foundation.