West-östliche Begegnungen in Sprache und Kultur, Literatur und Wissenschaft
Edited By Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich and Yoshito Takahashi
Das Feuer des Prometheus und E.T.A. Hoffmanns Erzählung Der Sandmann: Kyoko Tsuchiya (Universität Kyoto)
Kyoko Tsuchiya (Universität Kyoto)
Fire is the root of all civilizations. The ability to control fire has brought us dramatic changes. For example, in Greek mythology Prometheus is a culture hero, because he stole fire from the gods to protect mankind. From this myth, nuclear energy was often called “the second fire of Prometheus” in the 20th century, and we had had high expectation for it. But after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, people had no hope that they could control “the fire of the gods”. The punishment of the father of fire Prometheus has often been the subject of Western modern literature. A German Romantic author, E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), characterizes Prometheus as the Devil. Of central importance in The Sandman (1816) is fire used for science. The Coppelius/Coppola character, in whom the Protagonist Nathanael recognizes as the “sandman”, is not only a mad scientist, but also an incarnation Prometheus, on the ground that he made an attempt to create living human beings from an alchemic fire. And the automaton Olimpia, whom Nathanael was madly in love, is the fruit of modern science, that is to say physics. Both of them incite Nathaniel’s madness. Here, Hoffmann’s contention is evident that we cannot live any more without science and technology, and therefore each of us should develop our own ability of clear judgment.
Das Feuer unterscheidet sich von den anderen drei Elementen der klassischen Vier-Elemente-Lehre dadurch, dass es auch ein zivilisatorisches Produkt ist. Es hat seine...
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