"Tragedy raises doubts about the salience of the Platonist vision of the hyperrational ideal and the Kantian belief in the sufficiency and autonomy of the self. These conceptions of the subject and its actions depend upon a decisive blow being delivered to the poetic and to the idea of human being as dependent on or vulnerable to forces and powers not entirely within its rational control. Above all, tragedy is troubled by the hubris of enlightenment and civilization, power and knowledge. As we will see, however, the strategy of tragedy is not to dismiss out of hand the claims of reason, but to honor the contingent, the ambiguous, the paradoxical, and the unyielding in human affairs in such a way as to complicate our most cherished notions about the relation between identity and difference, reason and unreason, blindness and insight, action and responsibility, guilt and innocence. As Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet eloquently put it in a fascinating passage:
From a tragic point of view …, there are two aspects to action. It involves on the one hand reflection, weighing up the pros and cons, foreseeing as accurately as possible the means and the ends; on the other, placing one’s stake on what is unknown and incomprehensible, risking oneself on a terrain that remains impenetrable, entering into a game with supernatural forces, not knowing whether, as they join with one, they will bring success or doom. Even for the most foreseeing of men, the most carefully thought out action is still a chancy appeal to the gods and only by their reply, and usually to one’s cost, will one learn what it really involved and meant. It is only when the drama is over that actions take on their true significance and agents, through what they have in reality accomplished without realizing it, discover their true identity. So long as there has been no complete consummation, human affairs remain enigmas that are the more obscure the more the actors believe themselves sure of what they are doing and what they are.
Scott, David. Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment. Duke University Press, 2004. p. 13