Lance Foster (hengruh) wrote,
Lance Foster
hengruh

Hubris and Magic

Hubris is really about a loss of humility.
I say "saving the world" is hubristic because remembering that balances the extreme narcissism and egocentrism I see in people who say they want to "save the world."
Hubris is a safe word everyone should know and remember. Just like Death.

"Hubris /ˈhjuːbrɪs/, also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. Hubris is usually associated with the "simple-minded". " (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris) (cheap shots at Wikipedia as a source will be ignored)

Yeah, sure I'd love to help save the world. Be part of some magical action that stops climate change or create an earthquake that blocks a pipeline or (insert favorite fantasy here). But even the fictitious godling wizards Merlin and Gandalf were unable to save their own little worlds, let alone THE world.

"Hubris is a trait for which men have an enduring talent. We congratulate ourselves on our ability to change our world through thought and our ability to alter the physical world. But we are far too prideful because it is that pride we serve. It would be well, especially in a forum where truth is weighed, to keep in mind the words of Percy Shelly.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

(I made this video some years ago, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz8VG1zIEL8)



To me, magic is not hubris. EXPECTATIONS of what doing magic will result in, can easily turn into hubris. Magic is a path of considered action, that may or may not succeed; hubris is pride that goeth before the fall.
Tags: magic, philosophy
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