Ancient tragedy and the origins of modern science by Michael Davis

By Michael Davis

Via an in depth analyzing of Sophocles’ Ajax, Descartes’ Discourse on approach, and Plato's Meno, Davis argues that historic tragedy and smooth technological know-how are substitute responses to the human eager for autonomy or striving to be a god.Tragic heroes think that via politics they could exert extra keep an eye on over the realm than the realm will permit. To them the entire international is politics, or polis. Scientists search to regulate by means of learning nature, which, in essence, skill to rework the full of the realm right into a Polis. therefore the problems and motivations in smooth technological know-how have been already found in historic tragedy.

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At first glance an autobiographical account of the founding of the modern scientific method, a dialogic inquiry into the way virtue is acquired and a tragedy about a hero's madness look to be Page 2 altogether unrelated. An introduction would justify itself if it were to justify a second glance. The most distinctive product of our age is its science, modern science. It was once called the "new" science of nature, which implies that it had a beginning, a genesis. Its founders were a group of men who self-consciously rejected the understanding of nature which they took to be the teaching of antiquity.

To keep the race from dying out Zeus moves our primal ancestors' sexual organs to the front and changes their manner of reproduction so that in this rebellious act of hugging one thing will lead to another, and the result will be not the death of the species but its reproduction. This is the origin of eros*. On the basis of this brief sketch a few remarks can be made. The myth seems at first to be an account of eros* as the longing of our impaired natures for their original wholeness. The problem is that it does not explain why the circle-men were so dissatisfied as to revolt in the first place.

The Ajax is a strange drama about a second-greatest warrior who attempts to annihilate an entire Greek military force, is diverted by sudden madness, and who upon regaining his senses realizes that the only possible vengeance will be against himself, eventually leading to a further dilemma built around the political issue of rites to be accorded in the burial of a suicide. To do more than suggest the character, let alone the details of modern science, in anything less than a multivolume encyclopedia is naturally out of the question, but a brief introduction to its nature and primary connections Page xiii lies in the chapters in which one sees René Descartes through the eyes of Professor Davis or, just as properly, Davis through those of Descartes.

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