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Mind, Body, Motion, Matter

Mind, Body, Motion, Matter: Eighteenth-Century British and French Literary Perspectives OPEN ACCESS

Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Mind, Body, Motion, Matter
    Book Description:

    This book documents the career and work of controversial Dutch documentarist Joris Ivens (1898-1989), his sixty films over seven decades of cinematic commitment.

    eISBN: 978-1-4875-1141-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 3-18)

    The essays gathered here represent recent approaches to eighteenthcentury literature and philosophy. Beginning in the 1980s, Foucauldian criticism, among other theoretical currents, transformed the study of philosophical ideas into analyses of “knowledge.”² Early modern and Enlightenment philosophies, in particular, were subsequently interpreted as cultural constructions and assessed in terms of their historical effects. The literary works of the long eighteenth century were taken, in large part, as representations of the same social and political domains in which knowledge operated, even as they performed distinctive cultural work.³ The twenty-first century has brought about a critical shift from the study of knowledge-making...

  2. Part One: Pre-Reflective Experience
    • (pp. 21-46)

      InLondon and Westminster Improved(1766), John Gwynn observes that in current times the work of the history painter is “less attended to”; “his part,” rather, “is usually supplied by a paper hanging maker and two or three workers in stucco.”² The wallpaper and ornamental plasterwork to which Gwynn refers here is a sign of what Charles Saumarez Smith calls a “change in … perception” of the “material environment,” a new focus on the decoration of the interiors of houses and on those interiors as complete wholes.² Near the beginning of the eighteenth century, architectural illustrations of buildings began to...

    • (pp. 47-71)

      This essay explores some connections between theories of perception and varieties of literary form in the long eighteenth century. My goal will be to trace the development of what I call an anti-representational model of perceptual experience during the period, a model that considers perceiving to be an active process – more on the pattern of touch than vision – and that proposes that what the senses do is make the world available rather than hold it at a skeptical remove. The antirepresentational view, I’m going to suggest, is a dissident line or countercurrent within the eighteenth century’s dominant theory of perception....

    • (pp. 72-109)

      Since the 1960s, John Locke’sA Letter Concerning Toleration(1689) has been given a prominent position in histories of the development of liberal religious tolerance.¹ Liberal political theorists find in the empiricist Locke a forebear to Immanuel Kant, a rather violent yoking justified by understanding Lockean tolerance in terms of dispassionate judgment and the mutual recognition of religious freedom.² A Neo-Kantian framework, however, both distorts Locke and forecloses a fuller understanding of the formation of religious tolerance in the English Enlightenment. Focusing on Locke’s definition of religion as private belief, his skepticism about theological truth, and the epistemological grounds for...

    • (pp. 110-136)

      In the eighteenth century, several major works on the world’s religious ceremonies were published. These encyclopedic projects catalogue, describe, and provide visual illustrations of the diversity of worship around the globe, including the increasingly baggy category of paganism. The source material for what they called “idolatry” or “pagan superstitions” was recycled, for the most part, from travellers’ and missionaries’ accounts.¹ In this same period, many French, Dutch, and British writers inquired into paganism’s origins, essence, and the history of its forms, and they too combed this corpus of travel and missionary accounts for information.² Comparison was the dominant method in...

  3. Part Two: Materialisms
    • (pp. 139-169)

      In Daniel Defoe’s 1705 lunar voyage narrative,The Consolidator,the narrator discovers a number of fanciful instruments on the moon. No device is more astounding than the “Cogitator” or “thinking engine.”² This “mechanick Chair” has the power to make men’s thoughts “obedient to mechanick Operation” and, most crucially, to put the wild agitations of “the Memory, the Understanding, the Will, and the thinking Faculty … into regular Motions.”³ As I show below, theConsolidator’slunar instrumentation functions as a complex satire of both materialist models of the mind/soul and representations of mental activity in print. 4 We should not, however,...

    • (pp. 170-201)

      At 1,500 pages, Samuel Richardson’sClarissa, still the longest novel written in English, does nothing if not persist. His novel’s persistence is a subject that, notoriously, caused Richardson anxiety. Ever “diffident in relation to this article oflength,” Richardson, in the final paragraph of the novel’s postscript, defends himself on this count, insisting that “length ... must add proportionably to the pleasure that every person of taste receives from a well-drawn picture of nature.”¹ The novel’s textual history – multiple revisions, four editions in Richardson’s lifetime, companion texts to supplement prior versions, and yet another rewrite in the works upon the...

    • (pp. 202-229)

      This essay takes a novel approach to the early modern debates about “the thinking matter hypothesis,”² or what we would today call “the embodied mind thesis,” the question of whether or not the soul is material, whether bodies are sufficient for cognition or whether some spiritual substance is required instead, and where the soul or mind might be located in the body. Of course, such debates have a long history, dating back to the Ancients,³ but they were conducted with particular intensity in early modern Europe, notably in France and England, following the remarkably successful institutionalization of Cartesian metaphysics in...

    • (pp. 230-253)

      At the end of his life, the ailing philosopher Denis Diderot was still working on a decades-old project that has been called his “second encyclopedia.”¹ This was theÉléments de physiologie, a work he intended as nothing less han a compendium of all existing knowledge on the operations of the human body and mind. The work was left, apparently unfinished, at Diderot’s death in 1784, and its fragmented, partially derivative nature has led some commentators to read it more as a collection of notes for an unrealized project than as a consummate final expression of Diderot’s philosophy.² Others have called...

  4. (pp. 254-278)

    One of the most striking developments on the intellectual landscape of the eighteenth century is the emergence of aesthetic theory as an autonomous realm of inquiry. To be sure, reflection on the arts and their social function, and even on beauty itself, is almost as old as philosophy. But prior to the eighteenth century, the perception of the beautiful was not thought to constitute a distinctive mode of cognition, irreducible to logic, epistemology, or ethics. Of course, the idea that the brave thoughtadventurers of the eighteenth century discovered a terra incognita of the mind is implausible.¹ Rather, we must ask...

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This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International.
Funding is provided by Knowledge Unlatched