Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 9, No 1 (2013)

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A Greek Tragedy? A Hegelian Perspective on Greece’s Sovereign Debt Crisis

Karin de Boer


Focusing on Greece, this essay aims to contribute to a philosophical understanding of Europe’s current financial crisis and, more generally, of the aporetic implications of the modern determination of freedom as such. One the one hand, I draw on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right in order to argue that modernity entails a potential conflict between a market economy and a state that is supposed to further the interests of the society as a whole. On the other hand, I draw on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as well as on Hegel’s account of tragedy in the Phenomenology of Spirit to reinterpret the conflict between the spheres of civil society and the state as a tragic conflict. Modernity threatens to undermine itself from within, I maintain, because the simultaneous development of capitalism and democracy makes it very hard to prevent the sphere of particular interests from encroaching upon the sphere of politics.

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