Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Tragedy and Politics

Neal Curtis.

In this paper the term tragedy is understood in its relation to fate. A key aspect of Greek tragedy, for example, is that the outcome of the drama is already embedded within the character of the leading protagonist. In this sense I wish to argue that the groundlessness of the human political condition is itself a tragedy. In the absence of foundations, and partly as a response to the perceived threat of nihilism, human communities persistently seek to ground themselves in truth, which in turn contributes to the violent antagonisms that continue to haunt our politics. Given that human freedom cannot be determined as the laws of nature might be determined, the natural and social sciences are increasingly unable to respond adequately to this condition. In this respect the Humanities offer a vital opportunity for thinking through the groundlessness of the human political condition and lessening the tragedy of violence. Key to this paper are the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Lucien Glodman, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard.


Neal Curtis  (United Kingdom)
Senior Lecturer
Department of Communication Studies
Anglia Polytechnic University

Neal Curtis is senior lecturer in Communication Studies at APU, Cambridge, and is Managing Editor of Theory, Culture & Society. He is currently writing a book on war for Palgrave and is author of Against Autonomy: Lyotard, judgement and action with Ashgate (2001).

  • Tragedy
  • Politics
  • Humanities
  • Polis
  • Goldman
  • Heidegger

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)