Epistemology and the Legend of the Sphinx in Oedipus Rex

Epistemology and the Legend of the Sphinx in Oedipus Rex Research Paper example
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Epistemology and the Legend of the Sphinx in Oedipus Rex Oedipus Rex is a King of Thebes who is renowned for his intelligence and ability to solve all manner of riddles. When he arrives in Thebes, there is a plague in the city, but he saves it by solving the riddle of the sphinx.


The idea of pharmakos in Oedipus Rex is embodied in the interaction between the sphinx and Oedipus and how the sphinx guards and reveals knowledge. Pharmakos is the idea that there is a duality to things; that an item can be both a cure and a poison. The sphinx is used as a pharmakos in Oedipus Rex because not only does her physical appearance portray a duality, but also her riddles conceal knowledge in their ambiguity, but also in a sense, reveal truth concerning Oedipus and the Greek society. Epistemology Epistemology can be defined as the branch of philosophy that looks at the nature, origin, methods, as well as limits of human knowledge. It seeks to answer the question of how to distinguish true knowledge from false knowledge. One of the outstanding epistemological problems in Oedipus Rex is the ambiguity presented in terms of the nature and extents of Oedipus’ knowledge about his true origins (Carel 103). Many philosophers have argued that Oedipus may have been too ignorant to figure out facts about his past. However, at the beginning of the play, his intelligence is well portrayed when he is the only man who has the ability to solve the riddle of the sphinx. This ambiguity brings forth the vagueness of the extent to which Oedipus can and should be held responsible for his actions, which are: killing his biological father and marrying his own mother. ...
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