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Community in the Idiom of Crisis: Hegel on Political Life, Tragedy, and the Dead

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One of the most pressing issues for contemporary continental philosophy turns on the determination of a concept of community that twists free from the dangerous tendency in the canon of Western thought to associate the perfection of political affiliation with complete unity, even totality and immanence. In this article the author suggests that in the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel provides important resources for this project—not, of course, in his conception of that community indicated by the absolute spirit, itself a preeminent example of political totality, but instead in his discussion of a very different form of togetherness, one achieved in the tragic work of art. As the author argues, this is a sense of community that takes as its very basis the impossibility of political totality, for Hegel an impossibility evoked by a crisis concerning the political significance of the dead.

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