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Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England


Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

" Dying to Knowis the work of a distinguished scholar, at the peak of his powers, who is intimately familiar with his materials, and whose knowledge of Victorian fiction and scientific thought is remarkable. This elegant and evocative look at the move toward objectivity first pioneered by Descartes sheds new light on some old and still perplexing problems in modern science." Bernard Lightman, York University, Canada In Dying to Know, eminent critic George Levine makes a landmark contribution to the history and theory of scientific knowledge. This long-awaited book explores the paradoxes of our modern ideal of objectivity, in particular its emphasis on the impersonality and disinterestedness of truth. How, asks Levine, did this idea of selfless knowledge come to be established and moralized in the nineteenth century? Levine shows that for nineteenth-century scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, access to the truth depended on conditions of such profound self-abnegation that pursuit of it might be taken as tantamount to the pursuit of death. The Victorians, he argues, were dying to know in the sense that they could imagine achieving pure knowledge only in a condition where the body ceases to make its claims: to achieve enlightenment, virtue, and salvation, one must die. Dying to Knowis ultimately a study of this moral ideal of epistemology. But it is also something much more: a spirited defense of the difficult pursuit of objectivity, the ethical significance of sacrifice, and the importance of finding a shareable form of knowledge.

About the Author

George Levine is the Kenneth Burke Professor of English and director of the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers University. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of sixteen books, including The Realistic Imagination and Darwin and the Novelists, both published by the University of Chicago Press, as well as Lifebirds.

Table of Contents

The narrative of scientific epistemology — Dying to know Descartes — Carlyle, Descartes, and objectivity : lessen thy denominator — Autobiography as epistemology : the effacement of self — My life as a machine : Francis Galton, with some reflections on A.R. Wallace — Self-effacement revisited : women and scientific autobiography — The test of truth : Our Mutual Friend — Daniel Deronda : a new epistemology — The Cartesian Hardy : I think, therefore I'm doomed — Daring to know : Karl Pearson and the romance of science — The epistemology of science and art : Pearson and Pater.

Product Details

Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England
University of Chicago Press
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Reference » Rhetoric
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science

Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England
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Product details 326 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226475387 Reviews:
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