Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005
Tragedy, Comedy, and Ethical Action in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit
For most readers of the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel’s example of “Ethical Action” is taken from Sophocles’ Antigone. In fact, however, Hegel provides us with a trilogy of tragic examples. The first is Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos; the second, Aeschylus’s Seven against Thebes; Antigone is but the third. Further, just as a dramatic trilogy was followed by a satyr play among the ancients, ethical action’s final moment is taken from Aristophanes’ Ekklesiazousai. These four examples do not form a simple series where each equally expresses the truth of ethical action. Rather, they are increasingly adequate to that truth.