Ethics of Tragedy is a profound analysis of Greek tragedies, especially refugee tragedies and Sophocles’ Oedipus-trilogy, that presents the sense of tragedy in a time of rapacious capitalism and ecocatastrophe. Ari Hirvonen argues that theatre is a public space for tragedies, politics, democracy and justice, bringing together thinking and poeticizing, limits and transgression, fate and freedom. Instead of justifying the existing political order, tragedy disrupts, dissents, and exceeds it. Understood in this way, ethics is revealed as a fundamental part of tragedy.
Drawing upon Hölderlin, Hegel, Heidegger and Lacan as well as Butler, Irigaray, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Badiou, among others, this book is both a meditation on the theatricality of tragedy and a critique of tragic judgment. Despite being a philosophical treatise, Hirvonen rejects readings that reduce tragedies to philosophical ideas, moral principles, aesthetic dogmas, or heroic identities. Instead, he argues that tragedy reveals a non-essentialist ethics.
In the midst of hegemonic capitalist realism, we have lost the capacity to measure. As a disruption of our ways of sensing and the making sense of the world, tragedy inspires the art of measuring in a world without measures.