Ancient tragedy and the origins of modern science by Michael Davis

By Michael Davis

Via a detailed analyzing of Sophocles’ Ajax, Descartes’ Discourse on approach, and Plato's Meno, Davis argues that historical tragedy and sleek technological know-how are substitute responses to the human eager for autonomy or striving to be a god.Tragic heroes imagine that via politics they could exert extra keep an eye on over the realm than the realm will enable. To them the entire international is politics, or polis. Scientists search to manage through learning nature, which, in essence, potential to remodel the entire of the realm right into a Polis. hence the problems and motivations in smooth technology have been already found in historical tragedy.

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Sophocles.  Discours de la méthode.  Series. D38 1988 190dc19 87-21275 CIP Page v for my parents Page vii I grow old always learning many things. Count no man happy until he dies. Solon Page ix Contents Foreword xi Acknowledgments xv 1 Introduction 1 2 Ancient Tragedy: Sophocles' Ajax 14 3 The Origin of Modern Science: Descartes' Discourse on Method I-III 34 4 The End of Modern Science: Descartes' Discourse on Method IV-VI 65 5 The Limit of Autonomy: Plato's Meno 98 6 Conclusion 153 Notes 161 Bibliography 169 Index 174 Page xi Foreword George Kimball Plochmann This volume of modest size but very substantial import consists of commentaries on three diverse texts, with a Vorspiel on portions of a fourth.

Like Odysseus he was seeking to get the advantage of his enemy. Still, the character of his anger is peculiar. At first, the significance of Athena's action seems to be that she has succeeded in showing the incapacity of Ajax to distinguish between men and beasts. That has something to do with his unwillingness to recognize the gods (75877). But this unwillingness is rooted in the fact that his own virtue is suspect so long as it depends upon the gods for support. Father, with the aid of the gods, even one who is nothing, as well as one mighty, would triumph but I have been persuaded that even without them I will win fame.

The polis originates in a longing for freedom, but it can at best be a partial overcoming of our impaired condition. The law is a constant reminder that we must relinquish some of our freedom in order to be free. Political life is, therefore, both the vehicle and the obstacle to human autonomy. But as genuine autonomy is not something that can be approximated (one cannot be almost a god), and as the polis originates in this longing for autonomy, the polis is at its core tragic. Aristophanes' comedy conceals a deeper tragedy.

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