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Roczniki Filozoficzne

Volume 69, Issue 4, 2021

Robert PiłatOrcid-ID, Martyna FilcekOrcid-ID
Pages 25-42

The Tragedy and the Skepticism

The well-trotted path of interpretation of tragedy refers to a positive conflict of forces or values. In this article, we examine another possibility: to focus on a negative act involved in the tragedy, i.e., avoidance of essential goods and attachments. The avoidance makes the tragic hero live in a contracted world in which he cannot choose a good or save himself. The distinction between the positive and negative aspects of a tragic situation intersects with the distinction between the two layers of tragedy. The first layer involves unfortunate events and the subject’s strategies of resistance and self-preservation. The second layer involves new interactions between the subject, and the new reality changed by the effort of resistance. The new interaction leads to tragic guilt and turns the subject into a tragic hero. Between these layers, there is a dynamic exchange of content as it is between the negative and positive aspects of the tragedy. The negative act (rejection of values and attachments) and the affirmative act (the stand taken in an actual conflict of values, rations, claims) are mutually entangled. Any viable interpretation of tragedy should be able to follow both directions of their interaction. It is natural for philosophical hermeneutic to start with the negative act because it shows the immersion of tragedy in the structure of existence. This approach does not, however, remove the need for another hermeneutics, starting with the tragic experience. We tried to show this possibility by referring to the philosophy of Lev Shestov.