The concept of free will is practically inescapable in modern day philosophy. Indeed, questions regarding the power of free will are of no shortage in philosophy: While one philosopher might assert that humans have absolute free will, another may accept free will as present but questions how powerful it is, while a third explores the implications of a deterministic universe in which there is a complete absence of free will, and so it goes on until an entire library can be filled with texts that deal exclusively with freedom. I make note of this modern captivation with the concept of free will not because I intend to add this work to the aforementioned figurative library, but to remind my reader of a simple, chronological fact: the ancient Greeks did not have a concept of free will, nor did they care to question the significance of such a notion. It is of the utmost importance that this fact be viewed not as a mere triviality; rather, this knowledge must be taken into account when considering any aspect of an ancient Greek text that, to the modern eye, appears to be concerned with a battle between free will and Determinism. To make an argument in which an ancient Greek author is portrayed as a supporter of the concept of absolute free will is an anachronistic fallacy and must be disputed as one. Resultantly, although Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus looks to the modern eye to be a play centered around issues of Determinism and free will, it is no such thing; instead, the play addresses questions of choice, agency, and most of all, meaning. Through the lens of Albert Camus’ philosophy of the absurd, and backed by a philological investigation of the presence of ‘fate’ in the Sophoclean universe, I will argue that that Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus gives a firm answer to if and how man can go on living in a world that he has discovered to be meaningless.
The Importance of Oedipus: Infamous Complex or Existential Hero?.
Undergraduate Review, 15, 276-286.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol15/iss1/23
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