Aristophanes’ Clouds in the Light of Phenomenology of Spirit. A Contribution to the Anthropological Interpretation of the Phenomenon of Comedy

Rafał Michalski



The starting point of the article is a reconstruction of Hegel’s reflections on comedy contained in the Phenomenology of Spirit. The German philosopher puts forward the thesis that comedy is the culmination of the “religion of art” and exceeds – in terms of the degree of self-knowledge of the spirit and development of freedom – a tragedy. In the second section, I try to show that comedy is a peculiar, underestimated foreground of philosophy, from which one can deduce a post-tragic image of man different from the one proposed by the Lacanian school, Rorty’s ironism or Sloterdijk’s kynism. The point of reference will be Aristophanes’ comedy titled “Clouds”. While analyzing selected topics of this comedy, I will try to justify the thesis that the fate of Strepsjades, the main comic character, shows the process of his inner transformation. In the finale of the comedy, Aristhopanes presents the subject who freed himself from the pressures of particular needs and abstract principles, and become the medium of the birth of comic Dionysus, in which the vital human potential: “more life” (Nietzsche) or Erros (Bielik-Robson) is freed. The new comic subjectivity opposes the terrorizing power of death, fear and necessity. The finale of the comedy presents the reconciliation of subjectivity, reconciled with itself, in which the untapped, creative potential of speech and action is awakened. These comedy-Dionysian births of man open to him the perspective of a new, concrete natura naturans, grounded in a unique, individual existence, anarchic and rebel, but penetrated by a critical reflection that wants the common good in the name of the joy of life.


comedy; Aristophanes; Hegel; freedom; Erros; subjectivity; substance; myth; death; necessity

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