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Destiny Domesticated

The Rebirth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Technology

Jos de Mul

Publication Year: 2014

Analyzes contemporary technological society through the lens of Greek tragedy.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

According to Seneca, many found their fate while trying to avoid it. This book’s author pursued fate, in the blind hope that this might help him to escape his destiny. This book, which was written over a period of more than ten years, deals with the connections between three themes that I have discussed separately in earlier works. It shares its focus...


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xxiv

Fate. Sooner or later it knocks at everyone’s door. In many different guises. It can enter our lives gradually in the guise of an incurable disease or spring on us suddenly in the guise of an unexpected oncoming car in our lane. It can befall us from the outside like a devastating tsunami, but loom up also from within like an all-consuming...

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1. Destiny Domesticated

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pp. 1-22

On Sunday October 4, 1992, there was a plane crash with fateful (and fatal) results in one of Amsterdam’s districts, called Bijlmer. On that day, an El Al cargo plane took off at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 6:22 p.m. Six minutes later the pilot announced to traffic control that one of the engines on the right wing had failed...

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2. Chance Living

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pp. 23-36

“Who am I? What am I doing here?” With these somewhat confused questions James Stockdale presented himself to the American public as the running mate of presidential candidate Ross Perot in a television debate on October 13, 1992. Who am I and what am I doing here? These words not only articulated the sense of panic that can suddenly hit a person in their...

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3. Fatal Politics

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pp. 37-60

In his essay The Idea of Europe, George Steiner claims that Europe has a twofold inheritance, which is closely linked with the names of Jerusalem and Athens (Steiner 2004a). Whereas Jerusalem stands for the Judeo- Christian tradition, Athens, for Steiner, refers to rationalism, which goes back at least as far as Plato, and which has come...

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4. The (Non-) Reproducibility of the Tragic

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pp. 61-70

Can the tragic conception of fate still truly tell us something today? Can the classical Greek tragedy still teach us when we turn to her in an attempt to understand the human condition in light of the technological culture that has established itself globally? Or is tragedy doomed to be an echo of a world that has become completely alien for (post)modern...

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5. The Art of Suffering

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pp. 71-120

If there is one author in Dutch literature after World War II whose work was deeply inspired by the Greek tragedies, it would be Willem Frederik Hermans, who is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch authors of the second half of the twentieth century.1 Not, however, because he wrote many books in the form of a classical tragedy. The majority of his...

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6. Awesome Techonologies

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pp. 121-138

When the question is raised, in philosophy and sciences such as paleontology, regarding which features distinguish Homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom, the answers most often given, besides language, are man’s creative abilities and the use of tools. As a “needy” and “naturally artificial” being, man has depended...

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7. Tragic Parenthood

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pp. 139-200

In September 2004, the general public in The Netherlands was shocked by the death of the three-year-old toddler Savanna. Police officers accidentally found her small corpse in the trunk of her mother’s car, when the...

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8. Fateful Machines

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pp. 201-216

In the previous chapter, we have seen that scientific knowledge about human “behavior” may jeopardize our conceptions regarding human freedom and responsibility. Following Dalrymple, we have seen that deterministic theories are often used to deny one’s own responsibility for acting. But it is not just science that may undermine the autonomy...

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9. Exodus

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pp. 217-258

The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, the book with which Nietzsche entered European history in 1872, not only offers an original interpretation of the history of the development of classical tragedy, but it is also, or perhaps even primarily, a harsh critique of European culture as it has developed...


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pp. 259-302

Works Cited

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pp. 303-318

Name Index

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pp. 319-324

Subject Index

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pp. 325-334

E-ISBN-13: 9781438449739
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438449715

Page Count: 358
Publication Year: 2014