From Ethical Substance to Reflection: Hegelís Antigone


Dr. Victoria I. Burke


University of Toronto at Mississauga



Hegelís treatment of Sophoclesí Antigone exposes a tension in our own landscape between religious and civil autonomy. I argue that this tension reflects a deeper tension between unreflective, implicit norms and explicit, reflective norms that can be autonomously endorsed. The tension is, as Hegel recognizes, of particular importance to women. Hegelís characterization of this tension in light of the Antigone is, as H.S. Harris argues, both a more developed and a more fundamental moment in the Phenomenology of Spirit than the moment of Enlightenment autonomy (with its powers of reflective self-critique). I argue that while Hegel demonstrates the necessity of the modern transition to explicit norms that can be autonomously endorsed, explicit norms nevertheless depend on a background of unreflective norms for their force. Moreover, Hegel uses the conflict between Antigone and Creon to illustrate the tension and mutual dependence between these two types of norms.