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By Rob Boddice

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Then the deities directed the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus to assign abilities to each. Epimetheus took the task on himself, though the results were subject to the approval of his fraternal partner: To some creatures he attributed strength without swiftness, the weaker ones he endowed with speed. To some he gave weaponry, while for the ones he’d given a weaponless physique, he devised some other ability for their survival: to those he’d wrapped in littleness, he gave the power to escape on wings or live below the ground; while for those he’d expanded to a great bulk, he made that bulkiness the very thing that saved them.

B. Clarke (1754; New York, Columbia University Press, 2004): 32–4. , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); René Descartes, Discourse on the Method and the Meditations, trans. E. Sutcliffe (1641; New York: Penguin, 1968). the concept of the ‘human’ 23 becomes less an organism than a sphere of existence, which is opposed not so much to animals as to ‘nature’. This succession of ways in which the term ‘human’ is understood is, however, not so much a matter of replacement so much as accretion.

And so there have been many people who judged that it would have been better not to have been born, or to have died as soon as possible. 29 ╇Plato, Protagoras, 320d-322a. ╇Pliny, Natural History: A Selection, trans. F. Healy (New York: Penguin, 1991), bk vii, 4–5. 29 ╇ The level of comfort and security that human beings have achieved through technology, at least on a day-to-day basis, means that it has become far harder to claim superiority for man on the basis of a uniquely tragic destiny.

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