Friday, 18 February 2011

what oedipus rex tells us about climate change

In his column, 'Nature Notes' in the Independent, Michael McCarthy argues that the particular way in which we think about the major problems that confront us makes us incapable of grasping their size.

The principal fault of Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, remember, was not that he murdered his father and married his mother; those were incidentals of his fate. His real fault was that he thought he knew everything, he had answered the riddle of the Sphinx, he was Mr Clever. The Gods showed him that he wasn't (and in the greatest of all tragic ironies, he puts out his eyes to punish himself for having been blind to his true situation, which now he can see).

In the modern consensus, in liberal secular humanism, this spiritual view of Man of having limits, of not being able to do everything he chooses, and of potentially being a problem creature, is missing entirely. There is no trace of it whatsoever.

pic: Ralph Fiennes as Oedipus and Clare Higgins as his mother/wife, Jocasta.

See also
What Frankenstein and Titania tell us about climate change
The Greek Divide
Leave it the way we got it 
More hubris
Adrenaline on the cornflakes
The Greeks had a word for it

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