Bek-Pedersen, Karen. Fate Weaving

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  • Author: Bek-Pedersen, Karen
  • Title: Fate Weaving: Justification Of Metaphor
  • Published in: Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5
  • Year: 2009
  • Pages: 23-39
  • E-text: Brepols
  • Reference: Bek-Pedersen, Karen. "Fate Weaving: Justification Of Metaphor." Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5 (2009): 23-39.

  • Key words:

Contents

Annotation

The purpose of this article is to examine the frequent and enduring theme of fate as a woven material. The nature of fate is first examined and the following key elements found: fate is not time, fate is not causality, and fate is not logical or rational. The dichotomy of determinism vs compatibilism is then examined, with the result that, of the two, fate in the Norse tradition would more easily fall into the latter category. Fate is seen as the realization of the person’s character, their choices and reactions in relation to their nature, comparable with modern concepts of DNA and personality. This philosophical schema is then put into the pragmatic image of weaving on a loom, where the warp represents a person’s fundamental nature and the weft their choices; once set, the warp cannot be changed, and constrains the patterns possible by the weft – though choice does still exist for the weaver. In specific relation to both Njál’s Saga and Egil’s Saga, mention is made of episodes in each story where this particular paradigm of fate can be easily recognized.

Lýsing

Markmið höfundar er að skoða hið algenga og lífsseiga þema örlögin sem ofið efni eða vefur. Bek-Pedersen fjallar fyrst um eðli örlaganna, með eftirfarandi niðurstöðum: örlög eru ekki tími, þau eru ekki orsakatengsl og þau eru hvorki rökleg né skynsöm. Svo er lýst muninum á milli þeirrar kenningar sem telur frjálsan vilja og örlög vera andstæður (determinism) og hinnar kenningarinnar sem telur þau vera samrýmanleg (compatibilism); niðurstaðan er sú að örlög í norrænni hefð tilheyri síðarnefnda hópnum. Örlög eru skilin sem birtingarmynd persónuleika einstaklingsins, m.ö.o. val og viðbrögð persónunnar miðuð við eðli hennar, sem má bera saman við nútímahugmyndir um DKN kjarnsýrunnar og persónuleika. Þessi heimspekilega hugmynd er svo ummynduð í áþreifanlega mynd af vefnaði í vefstað. Uppistaðan eða varpið táknar meðfætt eðli mannveru og ívafið stendur fyrir val hennar. Uppistaðan eða varpið eru óumbreytanleg og það þrengir möguleika ívafsins, þótt vefarinn geti tekið sínar ákvarðanir að nokkru leyti. Höfundur tekur m.a. dæmi úr Njáls sögu og Egils sögu þar sem hægt er að sjá skýra mynd af þessari skoðun á örlögum.

References

Chapter 24: þeirrar hamingju auði: "[The] notion of not being able to change the course of events, though still being able to react to it, is expressed by Kveldúlfr in Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar 24 after his son has been killed and he realizes that he will not be able to avenge this […] Again, this situation is presented as a matter of fact which Kveldúlfr will simply have to deal with as it is, not as something that he can influence or change" (p. 30).

Chapter 130: hversu vera vill: "Skarpheðinn has done everything he could to show that he is not giving up, but at this point he realizes that there is nothing more he can do except follow the course that has been marked out for him — whatever the force that has marked it (the sentence in Old Norse has no grammatical subject). As a final gesture to show that he is not submitting without a fight, he throws the tooth that knocks out Gunnarr Lambasson’s eye. He may be up against forces that are much bigger than he is, but Skarpheðinn himself is in charge of how he faces this situation" (p. 29).

Links

  • Written by: Alwin-Jon Hills
  • English translation: Alwin-Jon Hills
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