Thinking with Cormac McCarthy


  • Henry Pickford Duke University



Cormac McCarthy, Tragedy, Sophocles, Climate change


This brief essay honor the recently deceased American author Cormac McCarthy by interpreting a short scene from one of his screenplays as a modern instance of genuinely tragic understanding. This interpretation is compared on the one hand with a related yet comedic version of tragic knowledge, and on the other hand with the play "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles. The essay argues that fostering the presentiment of such tragic understanding might be a an effective way of motivating people to act to avert climate change.

Author Biography

Henry Pickford, Duke University

Henry W. Pickford is Professor of German and Philosophy at Duke University. He is the author of The Sense of Semblance: Philosophical Analyses of Holocaust Art; Thinking with Tolstoy and Wittgenstein: Expression, Emotion, and Art; co-author of In Defense of Intuitions: A New Rationalist Manifesto; co-editor of Der aufrechte Gang im windschiefen Kapitalismus: Modelle kritischen Denkens; editor and translator of Theodor W. Adorno, Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords and Selected Early Poems of Lev Loseff; and author of over twenty-five articles and book chapters. He is currently co-authoring the book Adorno: A Critical Life and co-editing the Oxford Handbook to Adorno, and editing and translating a selection from Adorno’s notebooks. More information about his work can be found on



How to Cite

Pickford, Henry. 2024. “Thinking With Cormac McCarthy”. Krisis | Journal for Contemporary Philosophy 44 (1):111-15.