Epochal Discordance: Hölderlin's Philosophy of Tragedy (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy)
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Friedrich Holderlin must be considered not only a significant poet but also a philosophically important thinker within German Idealism. In both capacities, he was crucially preoccupied with the question of tragedy, yet, surprisingly, this book is the first in English to explore fully his philosophy of tragedy. Focusing on the thought of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Reiner Schurmann, Veronique M. Foti discusses the tragic turning in German philosophy that began at the close of the eighteenth century to provide a historical and philosophical context for an engagement with Holderlin. She goes on to examine the three fragmentary versions of Holderlin s own tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, together with related essays, and his interpretation of Sophoclean tragedy. Foti also addresses the relationship of his character Empedocles to the pre-Socratic philosopher and concludes by examining Heidegger s dialogue with Holderlin concerning tragedy and the tragic."
obliquely, refer to tragedy. Schmidt offers a detailed account of these, which is valuable in that it places them in historical as well as biographical context. He comments interestingly on Heidegger’s quotation, in his rectoral address of 1933,73 of a single line from Aeschylus’s Prometheus, to the effect that techne\ is weaker than necessity although, somewhat strangely, he does not relate this citation on Heidegger’s part to Nietzsche’s privileging of Prometheus as the tragedy of the
for the uncovering of being (Seinsenthüllung), and if he thus has, in the Hölderlinian phrase, “perhaps an eye too many,” this excessive eye is, Heidegger reflects, “the fundamental condition of all great questioning and knowing.”2 In the context of questioning the interrelation of being and thinking with a view to the essential character of logos, Heidegger moves from a discussion 91 92 EPO CHAL DISCO RDANCE of the “poetic thinking” (das dichterische Denken, that is, a thinking that is
have been his offering to Nature into the supposed ground of Nature’s spiritual life. Although there are already indications, in the first two versions, that the protagonist’s fundamental hybris lies in his seeking to encompass, in his own singular indivduality, the differential whole of Nature (so as to accomplish a reconciliation of the warring aorgic and organic principles) and that his singular self must therefore be destroyed, this thought is not as yet clearly articulated. Empedocles’
almost invaribly cited with Latinized spelling, such as those of Sophocles and Empedocles, I have left the c in place. xi This page intentionally left blank. Prologue Excess dominates, which is why there must be tragedy, limits by default. . . . [The moderns] no longer had access to the transports which carried the Greeks beyond themselves: we are barbarians to the point of seeing Dionysian excess as mere barbarism.1 It is astonishing that this book—completed, as it happens, almost exactly
69. 71. See this work, ch. 7, below, for references and discussion. 72. Heidegger, Einführung, 81. The Hölderlin citation is from “In lieblicher Bläue . . .” (“In lovely blueness . . .”), SW I, 479–81. This text is transmitted only as part of Wilhelm Waiblinger’s 1825 novel Phaeton, which is based on the figure of Hölderlin, and for which he drew on his close acquaintance with the poet and access to his papers during the latter’s mental illness. The editors of SW comment that it is impossible to