When something unexpected happens to us we still tend to ask “why me?” – and it’s difficult to know where to look for an answer.
While scientific analysis can provide us with better general comprehension of how the world works, it doesn’t always help us to understand our own experience. And public discussions of risk all too often become arguments about who is to blame, for example, after disastrous flooding.
In previous eras, we might have turned to the language of fate, luck and fortune. But although still used colloquially, these concepts have lost their explanatory power. In many ways, this is surely a good thing: ideas of fate, luck and fortune have often been linked to moral judgements about people, as happened after Hurricane Katrina.
But we can also learn a lot from history, specifically the Ancient Greeks and how they conceptualised fate, luck and fortune, and tried to anticipate the future.
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