The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The futitity of human pretensions

In Robert Harris's "Pompeii", Pliny the Elder, confronted by the fires of Vesuvius, has an insight of contemporary relevance into man and his position in nature:

Men mistook measurement for understanding. And they always put themselves at the centre of everything. That was their greatest conceit. The earth is becoming warmer - it must be our fault! The mountain is destroying us - we have not propitiated the gods! It rains too much, it rains too little - a comfort to think that these things are somehow connected to our behaviour, that if only we lived a little better, a little more frugally, our virtue would be rewarded. But here was Nature, sweeping toward him - unknowable, all-conquering, indifferent - and he saw in Her fires the futitity of human pretensions.


2 Comments:

At 13 January 2005 at 14:48, Blogger Jorgen said...

How true! I have the book but have not got round to read it yet though I love the "Fatherland" book and will pick up "Enigma" next time I see it.

 
At 13 January 2005 at 17:40, Blogger rexie said...

"Pompeii" is his best yet. You're in for a treat. The plot is not over-intricate like so many highly praised thrillers, and the research into Roman engineering and vulcanology is deep.

 

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