Paperback / softback
August 24, 2009
9780801892691
English
182
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
.5 Pounds (US)
$28.00 USD, £20.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
December 17, 2009
9780801896484
9780801840807
English
182
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
$28.00 USD, £20.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Empirical Truths and Critical Fictions

Locke, Wordsworth, Kant, Freud

In the prevailing account of English empiricism, Locke conceived of self-understanding as a matter of mere observation, bound closely to the laws of physical perception. English Romantic poets and German critical philosophers challenged Locke's conception, arguing that it failed to account adequately for the power of thought to turn upon itself—to detach itself from the laws of the physical world. Cathy Caruth reinterprets questions at the heart of empiricism by treating Locke's text not simply as philosophical doctrine but also as a narrative in which "experience" plays an unexpected and uncanny role. Rediscovering traces and transformations of this narrative in Wordsworth, Kant, and Freud, Caruth argues that these authors must not be read only as rejecting or overcoming empirical doctrine but also as reencountering in their own narratives the complex and difficult relation between language and experience.

Beginning her inquiry with the moment of empirical self-reflection in Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding—when a mad mother mourns her dead child—Caruth asks what it means that empiricism represents itself as an act of mourning and explores why scenes of mourning reappear in later texts such as Wordsworth's Prelude, Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science and Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, and Freud's Civilization. From these readings Caruth traces a recurring narrative of radical loss and the continual displacement of the object or the agent of loss. In Locke it is the mother who mourns her dead child, while in Wordsworth it is the child who mourns the dead mother. In Kant the father murders the son, while in Freud the sons murder the father.

As she traces this pattern, Caruth shows that the conceptual claims of each text to move beyond empiricism are implicit claims to move beyond reference. Yet the narrative of death in each text, she argues, leaves a referential residue that cannot be reclaimed by empirical or conceptual logic. Caruth thus reveals, in each of these authors, a tension between the abstraction of a conceptual language freed from reference and the compelling referential resistance of particular stories to abstraction.

About the Author

Cathy Caruth is the Winship Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Emory University. Her books include Trauma: Explorations in Memory and Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History, both published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviews

"Presumably one of the last publications we shall receive that will be able to acknowledge the personal influence of Paul de Man's teaching... Exciting and tenacious."

- John Baker - Comparative Literature Studies

"Her aim is nothing less than to rethink the place of experience in the texts which constitute our transcendental and Romantic self-understanding. Caruth's reexamination of the enigma of experience proceeds through painstakingly close readings of some major texts of our modernity."

- Heesok Chang - Wordsworth Circle

"A very thoughtful and valuable contribution to understanding empiricism's critical resistance to its own theory."

- Choice

"Caruth's absorbing book is powerful enough to challenge and engage one's own predispositions, and to continue very lively debates."

- Keith Hanley - Modern Language Review

"Reanimates this region of the critical terrain... Caruth's book belongs to that special category of works in literary theory that are not only intellectually stimulating but affectively moving."

- Modern Language Notes

"Its reminder of a critical style now apparently sidelined by various modes of historicist inquiry could not be timelier."

- Studies in English Literature
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 17

9780801892691 : empirical-truths-and-critical-fictions-caruth
Paperback / softback
182 Pages
$28.00 USD
9780801896484 : empirical-truths-and-critical-fictions-caruth
Electronic book text
182 Pages
$28.00 USD

Other Titles by Cathy Caruth

Unclaimed Experience, Twentieth Anniversary Edition

Cathy Caruth
Dec 2016 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

Listening to Trauma

interviews and photography by Cathy Caruth
Nov 2014 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$49.95 USD - Hardback
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$24.95 USD - Electronic book text

Literature in the Ashes of History

Cathy Caruth
Dec 2013 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$53.00 USD - Hardback
$25.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$25.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh

Material Ambitions

Rebecca Richardson
Nov 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$99.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

The Obsolete Empire

Philip Tsang
Nov 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$94.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

A Mirror to Nature

Rose A. Zimbardo
Oct 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$45.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in Literature: history & criticism

Material Ambitions

Rebecca Richardson
Nov 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$99.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

The Obsolete Empire

Philip Tsang
Nov 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$94.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

New Horizons for Early Modern European Scholarship

edited by Ann Blair and Nicholas Popper
Aug 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$49.95 USD - Hardback
$49.95 USD - Electronic book text