Tragedy as a Shared Space. Recognition in Foucault’s Lectures on Oedipus the King


  • Sanna Tirkkonen
Keywords: Foucault, Oedipus, recognition, self-knowledge, governing, tragedy


[In English]

Philosophical reflection of tragedy provides a possibility to think about the experience of a shared, political space in which different laws, political discourses, norms and values are in tension. Michel Foucault’s (1926‒1984) Oedipus lectures in Du gouvernement des vivants, Mal faire dire vrai, and Leçons sur la volonté de savoir provide political interpretations of tragedy. Foucault’s remarks on Oedipus have mostly been interpreted in the anti-psychoanalytical context, but they are even more nuanced in terms of political philosophy. Furthermore, the lectures illustrate the necessity of taking into consideration the aspects of knowledge and power in theories of recognition. Foucault is not usually considered to be concerned with the discussion on recognition, and therefore less explicit sources have been used to formulate the connection between Foucault’s critical standpoint and recognition debate. This article, however, pinpoints the concepts of recognition in Foucault’s lectures on Oedipus the King and reflects the relationship between tragedy and political thought. Foucault’s reading of Oedipus is an interlacing of theories concerning the history of the arts of governing, procedures of
truth, and subject formation.


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How to Cite
Tirkkonen, S. (2015). Tragedy as a Shared Space. Recognition in Foucault’s Lectures on Oedipus the King. Topos, (1), 117-128. Retrieved from
Ethics and Politics in Aesthetical Spectrum