EVOLUTION AND LITERARY THEORY

By Joseph Carroll

University of Missouri Press

Columbia, 1995

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Page 1

 

DOCTRINAL ORIENTATION:

 

Darwin said, all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of service. In this study, JC argues that knowledge is a biological phenomenon, that literature is a form of knowledge, therefore, literature is a biological phenomenon.

 

Four large biological concepts govern his formulation:

1)     The relationship between the organism and its environment.  This relationship is necessary for personal psychology, sexual and family relations, social organization, cognition, and linguistic representations.

2)     The idea that innate psychological structures have evolved: perceptual, rational, and affective.

3)     Proximate causes.  All immediate human motives are regulated by the principle of inclusive fitness as an ‘ultimate cause.’

4)     Representation, including literary representation is a form of “cognitive mapping.” The concept of “mapping” is not merely a metaphor for an abstract cognitive activity – it is an extension of primary cognitive function.

 

3 - JC will use cognitive mapping to refer to any representational activity, including the literary representations that integrate rational, emotional, and sensory functions.  He shall argue that the primary purpose of literature is to represent subjective qualities of experience.

 

The central doctrine of postructuralism are textualism and indeterminancy.  That is we make things what they are by naming them, by incorporating data into a sign system.

 

4 – Since poststructuralism treats all norms as arbitrary, it has convenient application within the field of radical political ideology.

 

6 – Any literary scholar now professing to operate primarily according to the premises of the New Criticism, Leavisite moral criticm archetypal myth criticism, or Chicago Aristotelianism, would be seen as Rip Van Winkle.

 

7 – Reader-response is about interpretive communities. 

 

9 – Most of the great Victorian essayists offer cultural commentary that mingles social, political, psychological, philosophical, historical and literary study.

 

10 – Among the very few literary scholars who have consistently and effectively opposed poststructuralism, M. H. Abrams and Frederick Crews are the most prominent.

 

11 – Neither Abrams nor Crews locates his theoretical arguments within the matrix of evolutionary biology.  They appeal to educated common understanding.  This is legitimate, but not adequate.

 

PLAN OF THE BOOK:

 

12 – In the first part of the book, he will delineate the basic doctrinal opposition between biological principles and the principles of current theory.

 

In the second part, he will use Darwin’s moral and sexual psychology to criticize sociobiology. 

 

13 – In “A Model of Literary Development” he will look at Victorian theories of development. He will compare Darwin’s materialist concept of system with Newman’s spiritualist concept, and explain how Arnold assimilates Newman’s concept to a teleological theory of culture.   He will draw these lines into the present.

 

He will set out the opposition between the archetypalist conceptions of Frye and the realist coneptions of Ian Watt.

 

He will explain the way in which scientific materialism alters the Christian conception of the world as a spiritual drama.

 

In both parts of the book, especially the first, he gives illustrative references to literary texts.

 

Pater has been promoted as the antecedent to our own postmodern age.  In this regard, they have said that no one remains as fresh as Matthew Arnold (MA).  But, Pater stems from MA (though Bloom doesn’t see it).

 

Together, Pater and Arnold go a long way toward constituting the immediate historical background for modern critical theory in English.


He has selected George Elliot’’s Marius for close examination because of its extreme points between the individual and the environment.  Elliot draws directly on the cultural theory of Newman and MA.

 

THE HISTORICAL POSITION OF A DARWINIAN PARADIGM:

 

16 – Elliot’s views on ex and morality are similar to those of Darwin.

 

Hippolyte Taine wrote the history of English Literature from 1863 – 1867).   Taine affilates his literary theory with Darwin’s Origin.  He propounds a concept of literature that puts the organism in its environment. 

 

He argues for three causal elements, race, the surroundings, the epoch.

 

By race, Taine means “the innate and heredity dispositions” that “are united with the marked differences in temperament and structure of the body.”

 

17 – CP says, “In my own view, race is, as Philippe Rushton says ,an ‘efficient unit of analysis,’ but at a certain level of generalization.”  But CP says at the level at which he affirms that lit reflects the interaction of the organism and the environment, “the question of racial differences is inessential.”

 

Leslie Stephan also accepts the basic Darwinian theory.

 

18 – Henry James is not a Darwinian, his basic metaphysical orientatation is dissimilar to Taine’s. So, he doesn’t get into him on the doctrinal level.  But, he is ardently responsive at the artistic level.

 

19 – But, he thinks Tain lacks a sense of “sanctity and mystery.”

 

20 – Taine’s work is not uptodate in terms of Darwinian theory, but it was written prior to descent of man. His efforts to identify the structure of innate psychological characteristics remain sketchy.

 

Taine’s one step beyond Stephen is to emphasize ‘climate.’

 

21 – He speaks, for example ,on the Saxon capacity for ‘duty’ coming from harsh climate. He sees a moral beauty whereas Mediterranean folk see a sensual one.

 

This informs MA’s view distinction between Hebraism and Hellenism.   But, MA does not tie this to the environment, rather he creates a quai-hegelian teleological development that leads towards perfection.

 

22 – These are vague and sloppy ethnographic categories.  But they can, JC thinks, “be closely correlated with specifically biological principles.”  They can be reduced to extroversion and introversion and to elementary facultative categoreies (sense, reason feeling, and will).  

 

The distinction between extroversion and introversion forms the basis of JC’s theory.

 

Kimbal is right to point to MA’s centrality to the culture wars.

 

23 – Unlike Crews, Kimball does not believe the primary impetus of multiculturalism is positive and constructive.

 

Rather than recognizing genuine diversity, Kimball thinks, it is about undermining the priority of liberal values, undermining norms that constitute Western cultural heritage.

 

24 – If we weigh Taine’s evolutionary paradigm we can see that its rough generalizations are preferable to hypothesis that are incoherent or in conflict with Darwin.

 

25 – Proponents of the evolutionary paradigm contend that ‘human nature’ is not an amorphous, passively receptive mass; it is rather, a highly structures set of innate aptitudes and propensities that have evolved through an adaptive process of natural selection.

 

26 – JC thinks E. O. Wilson is right about consilience.

 

Contemporary critical theory goes from Kant to phenomenology to deconstructive textualism.  Traditional science is closer to the Lockean tradition.

 

27 – Why has this consilience / integration between humanities and sciences not happened?   If differences among people by ‘nativity, race, and sex’ could be attributed to variations in social organization, they could also be eliminated by social engineering.

 

28 – Postmodernists say that no statement is true, but false statements have an absolute causal efficacy in constructing unequal social arrangements.

 

29 – Scientists, bankers, and engineers would be astonished by the declaration that ‘we make things what they are by naming them in one way or another.”

 

The standard social science model (SSSM) says culture is sui generis . . . omnis cultura ex cultura.

 

31 – We also reject consilience because we want to preserve an area of human subjectivity and spirituality, distinct from the objective world. This is in Christian Platonism and Kant.

 

HISTORICISM OLD AND NEW:

 

33 – Culture must always go back to minds.  If culture is to develop, individual minds must undergo a process of development, they must assimilate an existing order and modify that order in accordance with their own needs.

 

In Taine’s analyses of major cultural changes, the internal dynamics of cultural development interact with major socioeconomic and political changes.

 

34 – The exhaustion of one potential cultural phase helps open the doors to another.

 

“At certain times we get an original form of mind, which produces a lit, an art, a science, which slowly renews all human thoughts.

 

The poetry arises out of the culture, and the culture arises out of conditions that the people have helped to bring about, through their actions.   In Taine’s work the big changes are brought about by giants of history.

 

Taine’s vision of man is more generous than that of post modernists and truer.

 

35 – Taine believes that the particular personality of the writer also impacts their literary work.  There is an epoch, but the personality is never totally dissolved into the epoch.

 

Language, legislation and catechism are the acts of corporeal man. 

 

New Historicists believe cultural codes are causal and the individual passively plays them out.  This is incompatible with Taine’s view. It is also incompatible with the contemporary evolutionary view.

 

36 – Taine assumes that all cultural order has a deep coherence based on a common thematic order, a way of conceiving the world common to members of the culture.

 

The claim for coherence is not for placid homogeneity but for a total interactive system like that of an ecosystem.

 

37 – New Historicists sek to “problematize” all figurative structures and that subverts the normative order o f the culture.

 

SYSTEM TOTALIZATION AND PLURALISTIC COMPROMISE:

 

41 – There are two distinct forms of pluralism:

The moderate form consists in the contention that the diversity of critical readings merely reflects the themes that critics choose to pay attention to. 

The radical form of pluralism says we have no basis for choosing any conflicting principles, interpretations or systems of belief.

 

42 – JC thinks it is possible to make rational decisions about the validity of premises, methods, and interpretive propositions. And, also, without making such decisions, no conceptual formulation is possible.

 

43 – He presents a Model of Possible Thematic Models.  In it he argues all topics of analysis can be coordinated with in a general set of principles.  This is like physical science that sees a wave, H20, storm systems and such at the same time.

 

45 – He takes the incest out of Wuthering Heights.

 

PART ONE

A DARWINIAN CRITICAL PARADIGM

 

CHAPTER ONE: POSTSTRUCTURALISM, TRADITIONAL CRITICISM, and EVOLUTIONARY THEORY

Page 49

 

49 – A fundamental premise of postructuralist criticism is that in all literary works, meaning is preemptively determined by linguistic and cultural modes.

 

THE ELIMINATION OF WORLD AND PERSON:

 

50 – Derrida said there is nothing outside of text.

 

51 – From a naturalistic perspective, minds are stimulated by something outside of mind.

 

52 – Reader response says meaning only comes from preconceptions, and so eliminates text.

 

54 – M. H. Abrams’ The Mirror and the Lamp saw four levels of understanding; the work, the artist, who produces it, the subject to which the work refers, the audience to whom it is addressed. 

 

Postructuralism eliminates the author, nature, and the reality to which the work refers.

 

55 – True reduction involves finding elementary principles we can reduce complexity to.   Reductive exclusion arbitrarily eliminates some elements and falsely totalizes others.

 

THE TRUISTIC/ RADICAL SHUFFLE:

 

56  - JC calls shifting back and forth between truisms and radically absurd statements the “truist / radical shuffle.”

 

57 – For example, the truism that the reader fills in gaps in the text and the idea that the reader totally constitutes the text.

 

Barbara Hernstein Smith seeks to eliminate representation from communication. 

 

Clarrisa depicts rape, not cause it occurs, she says, but because it is a convention of narrative.

 

60 – Foucault does not make contradictory claims, he makes no claims at all.  He removes his arguments at least one step from specific propositions and situates them within truistic / radical shuffles.

 

61 – Greenblatt says that social conditions are the total cause of Shakespeare.

 

63 – At bottom all is already an interpretation Foucault says.  

 

In the following pages, poststructuralism’s shortcomings are discussed.  As I am well aware of these shortcomings – the failure to ground in anything but political dreams – I am not giving a thorough account.

 

SEMIOTIC TRANSCENDENTALISM AND BIOLOGICAL NATURALISM

 

68 – They even say that Darwin is just an interpretation – a ‘carnivalesque.’

 

70 – They take Darwin’s being congenial to indeterminancy and make it totally random.   

 

72 – He recognized that the laws of variation had not yet been determined.  But, he didn’t know about genes. And, though complicated, there are propensities.

 

73 – All is not chance.

 

75 – Biology is not just ‘one discourse’ one conceptual idiom among others.

 

78 – As Lorenz tells us, organisms that are constantly wrong about their environment do not survive.

 

79 – Leslie Stephen wrote “The Savage believes in his charms, but he believes more profoundly in his bow and arrows.” 

 

Ideas are provisional in science.  But some stand the test of verification and take their place as ultimate truths.

 

81 – Even hardcore semiotics avoid falling objects and negotiate salaries and go to doctors.

 

THE INSTITUTIONAL PURPOSES OF POSTSTRUCTURALISM:

 

84 – Samuel Johnson tells us that mind “naturally loves truth.”

 

85 – Jonathan Culler is a poststructuralist who asked, What is Literary Criticism For? 

 

86 – JC thinks it more to do with establishing poststructuralism as a field than exploring literature.

 

What would we say of a biologist who proposed to detach biological theory from comparing specific organisms, the way poststructural criticism detaches itself from actual books?

 

87 – Ellen Rooney’s book, seductive reasoning, provides no evidence of ever having had the slightest interest in poems, plays, or novels.  She likes literary theory.

 

88 – One of George Eliot’s greatest characters is Casaubon, a failed scholar who has grandiose ambitions, but who is intellectually sterile and motivated finally only by malignant egoism.

 

90 – By disconnecting texts from reality, poststructuralism (PS) deprives them of MA’s criticism of life.

 

A NATURALISTIC ETHOS:

 

92 – PS have alienated the public from literary criticism, rather than that, JC is upset that it is foolish.

 

NAZI death camps, academic politics, books as physical objects, in the following chapters, we will see that characters in books are in worlds that are full of things, like pirates and bad marriages.

 

Every reader has his or her own structure of beliefs and values, but the text itself is not totally amorphous; it has a message.  that is why we read texts.

 

93 – Whereas New Critics often limited themselves to paraphrasing, the PS  are blind to the ‘real’ significations of texts.

 

94 – By aligning with Darwinian naturalism we once again take the subject – the living, individual, human personality – as a primary reference.

 

95 - The critic will regard the texts not merely as an arrangement of elements within a given system of signs, but as references to the real world.

 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE AS A FORM OF KNOWLEDGE

Page 96

BODY, MIND, AND REPRESENTATION:

 

Darwinian literature theory sees a continuum from sensory perception to literary representation.  The arguments are not based  on metaphysics, but evolutionary psychology, neurology and linguistics.

 

97 – Language corresponds to a reality that exists outside of language.

 

To establish this, we must contrast ‘materialism’ and ‘dualism.’

 

Materialists ground themselves in sensory perception – Tooby and Cosmides are his examples. They call eyesight “a psychological adaptation.”  Feelings too are seen as physical.

 

98 – They impact the limbic system and are conscious experiences.

 

In Eccles’ work (himself a dualist) language has 4 functions: expressive; the signaling, the descriptive and the argumentative and suggests the angular gyrus is important in speech because it is the meeting place of visual and tactile info.  This makes it great for naming objects, so observed.

 

99 – True language consists of a secondary representational system that enables consciousness to operate independently of immediate sensory stimulus and so to make hypothetical models.  This has great adaptive value.

 

100 – Rorty is the most prominent contemporary proponent of the theory of ‘meaning as use’ or ‘neo-pragmatism.’

 

We must beware of folks like Bickerton who seem materialist, but then slip into (consciously or unconsciously) dualism.  He does so when he says that language constructs reality in accordance with its own principles.

 

Language does representation, and does so by creating fairly accurate models of the world we live in.

 

101 – The instinctive subjective belief on which our behavior is predicated can be designated the commonsense view of the world.  While science extends commonsense, it is ultimately grounded in it.

 

102 – Arguments that deny the reality of the world outside of language do not go beyond common sense, they violate it.

 

LITERATURE AS A SUBJECT OF STUDY

 

103 – There are three reasons to reject formulas of linguistic constructs that deny a correspondence to reality:  1) They are at odds with our intuitive convictions; 2) they run counter to evolutionary science; 3) they contradict themselves – the notion of an argument already presupposes standards of validity and hence rationality.

 

Contrary to a widely held prejudice, the subjective and mental character of figurative structures does not render them inaccessible to theoretical understanding in accordance with biological principles.

 

104 – Literature is a mental product, and the adaptive function of mind is to locate the organism in its environment.

 

Any given literary work constitutes a single instance of the potentially infinite number of linguistic representations that could be generated from any given world-picture. 

 

They show what James called ‘felt life.’   

 

They can do this either by showing the author’s personal sense of their subject, or the character’s.

 

105 – Human faculties can be divided into four main categories: sensory perception; feeling; reason or conceptual formulation; and the will or power of intentional action.

 

Philosophy or social science seek objective, impersonal knowledge of subjects.

 

Literary works, feature personal perspectives and emotional responses in their production and perception. 

 

Thus E. O. Wilson says that science can never be a substitute for art.

 

106 – Literature overlaps with science, philosophy, and the social sciences in its use of words as its specific medium. 

 

The word ‘aesthetic’ signifies the formal organization of sensory properties.

 

Most plastic art and music integrates the aesthetic, the conceptual and the affective.  (the conceptual part of music is, in part, its mathematical design). Of all the arts, literature lends itself least to the abstraction of purely aesthetic properties.  It has meaning.

 

Consequently, ‘concrete’ poetry, which attempts to reduce words or letters to the sensory properties of language, deleting all semantic properties is a marginal phenomenon.

 

107 – But we do actually hear rhetorical sequences leading to a climax, staccato rhythm in short declarative sentences.  Whitman’s rhymes.

 

Literary representations often, but not always, depict subjects that are fictional or imaginary in character.  They also have paradigmatic value.  As such, they are like hypothesis in an argument.

 

108 – Eagleton says Shakespeare and train timetables could both be read as literature.  But, no, lit is not Platonic, they rest in a class – like all scientific classifications.

 

109 – We can define literary works as “representations that either take the quality of personal experiences as their special subject or register the writer’s own sense of the experiential quality of his or her subject, that are intended to stimulate emotional and aesthetic as well as conceptual responses in the reader.”

 

To the extent that they share in these qualities, philosophy and history are literary.

 

110 – Most science falls outside of this category.  Huxley is an obviously literary scientist.

 

111 – The Descent of man has similar subjective qualities and is further, directly, concerned with the nature of human experience.

 

112 – If the scientific concern is for impersonal, objective knowledge and literature for subjective experience (including ideas), we can locate literary criticism in a position that is indeterminate between these polar concerns and occupied with both.

 

CRITICISM AS AN EMPIRICAL DISCIPLINE:

 

113 – In Literature and Science, MA groups literature and criticism as ‘humane letters.’  In terms similar to E. O. Wilson, he defines humane letters by distinguishing them from science, and he defines science by restricting its cognitive scope to ‘knowledge.’

 

We need this because as science advances, “the need of humane letters, to establish a relation between the new conceptions, and our instinct for beauty, our instinct for conduct, is only the more visible.”

 

114 – Major critics are people with powerful minds, who use literature to help construct their worldview and express it by commenting on literature.

 

MA saw that literature provides on of the main sources of information for formulating cultural values.

 

At the same time, as Arnold also argues, critics must be willing to assimilate scientific knowledge.

 

115 – Abrams, in the mirror and the lamp, seeks to segregate scientific and critical knowledge.   Though wrong, he helps us see what is meant by a more objective grasp of literature.   

 

Abrams says crit is relative, but scientific is objective.  JC says all is relative to a knower.   None is of ‘the thing in itself.’   The confusion comes from conflating the objective parts of literature and the personal response.

 

As JC will argue later, scientific facts are merely phenomena consistent with established scientific theory.   It is relative to this body.    We cannot remove literature from fact altogether.

 

116 – Evolutionary theory conflicts with no other scientific hypothesis.  And, critical theory that conflicts with evolutionary theory can be rejected.

 

117 – Toynbees system is one of the most erudite and ingenious, it orients itself on biological principles, but its larger structural principles are a pastiche of Spengler, Marx, Bergson, and his idea of “civilization” is vague and indeterminate.

 

118 – Are there “laws of history”?

 

To think that history is not susceptible to scientific understanding presupposes that history constitutes a distinct realm from the natural world.

 

119 – We can make predictions.

 

Anyone reading a poem by Pope can predict which line will rhyme with the next.

 

Predictions range in accuracy, like predicting the weather. 

 

We could predict that after a popular nationalistic war, in a country with strong patriotism, a poem like “charge of the light brigade” would be written or that in times of colonial oppression, Robin Hood might arise.

 

Isolated populations will create myths is a definite.   In complex civilizations with strong codes, books noting discrepancy between formal codes and personal desire will be written.

 

The publishers of cheap romances make a business of predicting certain authors will produce books people will buy.

 

120 – They even predict consumption rates within given demographics.

 

The primary concern of criticism is not to anticipate books, but to understand books that have already been written.    In this respect it is like geology and evolutionary biology.  It explains the past.

 

No evolutionary biologist predicts the next species. 

 

121 – Science must be capable of disproof.  If a hypothesis is confirmed and not disproven it reaches the status of theory. 

 

123 – This is how Darwin worked, he looked at so much evidence, that his theory organized chaos and predicted what would be found elsewhere. 

 

His research is essentially the same as that which would govern disciplined investigations in the study of literature.

 

He wishes to apply this idea of prediction to the rise of PS theory itself.  Two hypothesis: 1) no matter what the original purpose of an institution, once established, its primary purpose is to perpetuate itself.

124 – 2) Universalizing self projection – Pope saw the finely turned phrase as the touchstone for true art; Elliot, art should be impersonal and allusive.  So PS see themselves everywhere 3) self – interested belief.

 

125 – The important thing herein is not accuracy, but  that this hypothesis be susceptible to experiment and falsification.  2 and 3 above are.

 

126 – We can say factual things about literature.  Shakespeare was written after the Canterbury Tales and Before the Rape of Lock.  All three are in English.  In all three they combine Anglo-Saxon syllable stress with French syllable counting.

 

Facts make it possible to have reasoned discussions of interpretive propositions about specific texts.

 

127 – People long thought that Stevens abandoned all interest in religion in his youth.  New evidence is falsifying this. 

 

128 – Uncertainty is a matter of degree.  No one denies Hamlet is obsessed with death and that images of corruption and disease permeate the play.

 

CHAPTER THREE

THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF LITERARY FIGURATION

Page 129

 

129 – The most important distinguishing characteristic of literary representation is its subject matter: the subjective quality of human experience.

 

In the first section of this chapter, JC will outline a continuum between the objective and subjective aspects of literary figurations.

 

In the second section, he will examine ways in which individual characteristics and cultural order interact.

 

REALISM AND SYMBOLISM:

 

130 – Figurative structure refers to the total set of affective, conceptual, and aesthetic relations within a literary construct.   This includes representations, metrical patterns, rhyme schemes, proposition statements, figures of speech, syntax and other stylistic devices.

 

In representations of human experience, the most important elements are character, setting and plot.   Because the author, like the represented characters, is a distinct person, these provide a locus for organizing their experience.

 

131 – Evolutionary theory can provides a sound rationale for these categories.

 

The representation of characters, plots and settings constitute a continuous scale, with realism on one side and symbolism at the other. 


Figurations at the realist end represent people, objects, and actions.  .  Figurations at the symbolic end, use dramatic elements to represent the basic forces and fundamental structural relations within the author’s own world picture or cognitive order.

 

Symbolism’s extreme would be A Pilgrim’s Progress, wherein all are allegories.

 

132 – The difference between realist and symbolic can be correlated with extraversion and introversion.   Extroverts are more strongly oriented towards absorbing stimuli from the outside world. Introverts, to articulating their own psychic structures.

 

133 –The objective depicts the personal experience of other humans; the subjective look at the author’s cognitive order.

 

Taine looked at impulse and idea: Impulse was poetic and changeable like Shakespeare; the other action packed and immutable like Milton. 

 

134 – Taine and Stephan say that the subjective orientation is dominated by a need for systemic integrity.  That is why it is combative. 

 

But, Taine is not very clear in his distinctions, such as that between the moral and the sensual cultural orientation.

 

135 – But starting with objects and then noting which are selected and how they are described is a good way to naturalize style.   But we also must look at the author’s world itself, the total cultural situation in which they write.

 

136 – JC argues that symbolic figures represent not only psychological archetypes, but also socioeconomic, ideological, religious, and philosophical.

 

137 – On the scale of extroversion / introversion, most people are in the middle.  A literary figuration has both subjective and objective aspects.

 

Even fantastic allegories like The Faerie Queene have characters in settings.

 

138 – Mann and Conrad are so realistic that people miss the symbolic structures.

 

Eliot and Tolstoy depict characters who are highly complex and differentiated.   And, they analyze the social order at a high level.  But, this is only a matter of degree.  Their depictions still remain within the range of common understandings of educated people.

 

140 – Our ability to abstract means we can make many combinations, but it also makes us prone to error and makes people very varied.

 

The depictions of the world remain relatively constant, but the metaphysical aspects have changed greatly.  Naturalism was a fierce ideological movement led by Zola and Taine. 

 

141 – This replaced the Middle Ages’ vision of the world.

 

142 – In Eliot’s Daniel Deronda the Jewish characters are projections of psychosexual and cultural elements from within Eliot’s own mind.   Deronda’s mother says, “You can never imagine what it is to have a man’s force of genius in you, and yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl.”  They represent civilization and the quest for meaning.

 

143 - Gwendolen, on the other hand is very realist.  So Gwendolen represents petty egoism and conventionalism.  

 

144 – The struggle between the symbolic and the real is a crucial feature of Eliot’s thematic structures.

 

145 – Eliot argues like Burke “The notion of culture developing continuously from a traditional base would overcome the radical division between the common place and the higher culture.

 

Like so many Victorians, Eliot’s writing is dominated by the need to find a substitute for Christianity.  She and Arnold wish to import the passion of Christian morality into a secular, naturalistic conception of man.

 

147 – JC shall argue that James follows Elliot in the belief that through self-sacrifice – and so transcendence of the worldly, you can gain access to “an immeasurable circle of light and glory.”

 

HUMAN NATURE, CULTURE, and INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY:

 

148 – With Eliot, there is no necessary association between the symbolic and the ideal.

 

Subjective order, and hence symbolic figuration, can just as easily be cynical, sadistic, obscene and demonic as not.

 

HUMAN NATURE, CULTURE, AND INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY

 

In PS criticism, conventional practices do not separate us from reality, but create it.

 

Fish doesn’t make original theses, he explains them well.

 

149 – He assumes that facts are either given in nature or wholly arbitrary and conventional.

 

The brain is conditioned by the history of its own functioning; it is self-organizing.

 

150 – The Standard Social Science Model is called ‘culturalism.’

 

In contradistinction, JC argues, that innate dispositions, that result from evolutionary adaptation, influence every aspect of human identity: sensory, perception, language acquisition, the psychophysiological structure of personality, sexual identity, family functions, the organization of individuals in social structures, and the relation of humans to the physical world.

 

JC argues that “innate dispositions vary among groups and individuals.” That innate characteristics interact in a reciprocal way with the cultural order in which they are situated, and that individual phenotypes often vary from the normative order of that culture.

 

So three things interact: Human nature; the cultural order; and individual identity.

 

Any given symbol can simultaneously represent all three of these areas.

 

151 – Crucially, cultural systems have no transcendant existence independent of individual minds.

 

152 – Some things, like breathing, are hardwired.  Others, like emotional and social behavior, are ‘open’ in the sense that they  remain latent until elicited by appropriate environmental stimuli.

 

153 – All totaled we can formulate the relation between human nature and culture in the following way:

1)     Innate human dispositions exercise a powerful shaping force on all forms of cultural order.

2)     All such forces operate in a tight web of systemic interdependency such that the modification of any one element has a distinct effect on all the other elements within the system.

 

We have wet nurses and celibacy, but there is a heavy psychic cost.

 

Our society is conducting experiments in such matters as dissolving the nuclear family and eliminating sex-role distinctions in combat.   These totally social constructivist experiments will be interesting to watch.

 

Symbolic representations of human nature and cultural order are necessarily interpretations from the perspective of a distinct individual identity.

 

The cognitive order of an individual psyche is n good measure preconstituted by the cultural order – what New Historicists call ‘the episteme.’

 

154 – Eliot attributes cultural reform to great individuals. “When a multitude of men have learned to use the same language in speech and writing, then and then only can the greatest masters of language arise.”  This because they must use familiar words and expand upon already common sympathy.

 

155 – In the order of things, Foucault says the empirical shift between the 18th and 19th century was sudden and total, with no significant element of continuity.   He does so in order to disrupt the idea that knowledge has a discernable, objective relation to the natural order.

 

156 – Herein JC invokes Jung.  The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually.  Likewise, parents, wife, children, birth.

 

JC argues that these are inherited are not images, but genotypic characteristics.

 

157 – Some place cognitive mental structure events lower than emotions; they say “emotion has taught makind to reason.”

 

But, in arguing that literary images are correlative to psychological structures, JC is presupposing that language is a medium of communication and in forming personal identity. 

 

We assess information content, truth value, emotional tone, and aesthetic properties.  We judge speakers / authors.  We assume that others are moved by beliefs and desires, they have an “intentional ‘ stance.  

 

158 – George P. Murdock has a set of human universals, ala Donald Brown.  James Q. Wilson finds four moral universals: keeping promises; respecting property; acting fairly; and avoiding unprovoked assaults.  Acting fairly includes equity, reciprocity and impartiality.

 

159 – “Innate psychological characteristics or genotypes vary among individuals, between sexes, and among races.”

 

The disposition towards aggression and promiscuous sex is largely male.  All societies are predominantly heterosexual.

 

There is a common range of human nature.  It is why we can read with sympathy and understanding, works of authors from other epochs, levels of civilization, etc.

 

160 – We care about individual psyches. But these all involve assessments of normative cultural characteristics and those of the whole human race. 

 

161 – Austen accepts her society, Swift rejects it.  If the authorial and cultural norms are synchronous, the plot leads to total adjustment;  if conflicting,  it leads to isolated alienation.

 

162 – As a compromise between alienation and conformity an author can reject prevailing cultural norms, but entertain the possibility of reform. MA rejects society but tries to reform it .

 

163 – Species typical and cultural norms are distinct categories.

 

164 – In Dorian Gray, Lord Wotton rejects society flippantly.  But, eventually this life leads to shame, penitence, and self-renunciation.   

 

The homosexuality is in oppositional character.

 

He reviews one attempt to read homosexuality into Henry James’ ‘the beast and the jungle.’  

 

165 – Homosexuality has appeared no where else, it is odd that it happens at a grave, and knowing James, we can say this is a desperate attempt to read ‘theory’ into literature.  It is propaganda.

 

168 – As it does not lead to babies, homosexuality cannot be species-typical.  So, highly feminized males, adopting roles different from the majority of males, would feel a disparity between their own personal organization and that of the heterosexual norm.

 

169 – If we see parents taking care of children as purely being a cultural construct, we trivialize the anguish in the pathology of deviates and their heroism when they cope with it.

 

“The formal principles of culture are themselves means of regulating elemental biological functions such as those concerned with rearing children.”

 

170 – Neoclassical theory is preoccupied with human universals.  This also appears in Shelly, Arnold, James and Tolstoy. 

 

When we see deviation from biological norms and the author’s conception of human nature, we can tell if their view is merely idiosyncratic – peculiar to them.

 

171 – One standard JC uses is how much the authors understand human nature and if they exist in a rich, complex, and distinct cultural system – while being individualized as personalities.

 

If you love homosexual novels, or tastes from late 17th century France, that is about your own proclivities; this is not an objective standard of a great novel.

 

172 – In Middlemarch Eliot shows us species typical characteristics in categories like male and female; knowledge; feeling, sensuality, will, egoism, communal identity and the lust for dominance.    In the cultural area id shows religion, philosophy and ideological categories – apart from cognitive maps.

 

173 – Later he will look at Pater’s Marius. But it is very full of such categories as we’ve seen in Eliot, including a psychosexual conflict that allegorizes a major phase in western history – stoicism.

 

Jung was correct about dreaming; it restores the integrity of the personality.  The limbic and right hemisphere dominate during sleep.

 

174 – Information about childhood is stored in movement, not words, but still there.  Darwin said that animals have imagination because they dream. 

 

175 – This is so.  Imagination is the neurological function that spontaneously produces mental images.   When it is combined with language we get symbolic figurations.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

A MODEL OF LITERARY DEVELOPMENT

Page 176

 

CAUSAL REDUCTIONS:

 

The dichotomy between the subjective and objective is, as so far described, static. If we put this in time, the objective assimilates new information from a changing world.   The subjective synthesizes this information, in a way that gives coherence to the cognitive order.

 

He is pursuing this to show how artists assimilate and build upon the concepts of their time.

 

178 – Marx says that the superstructure determines art.  Bloom says the text in itself determines itself.  It is ahistorical.  CP literature happens in a context and impacts that context.  It is reciprocal.

 

179 – Trotsky affirms that art can influence society.  He says like Taine, “art is a kind of philosophy made sensible.”

 

180 – But these folks cannot leave the superstructure ideal.  Raymond williams, the most prominent Marxist critic, over comes the deficiencies in the Marxist concept by becoming more vague.

 

Jameson has the same quandary and problem.

 

From the Marxist position, the base determines art, but this contradicts art as activism.  From the postmodern perspective, contradiction is not merely a problem of late capitalism, it is the ultimate cosmic principle.  They cannot really be reconciled.

 

SYSTEMIC CHANGE:

 

184 – JC shall argue that art both responds to stimuli from the environment and also follows out the potential for development that is built into its own formal structures.  These formal structures are not disembodied, they always reside in the minds of individual humans.

 

Previous work constitutes a set of achieved meanings.  The artists relation to them, adapts them, is an integral part of the total meaning of any work.

 

185 – Konrad Lorenz sees atnomistic gene pressures and genotype interacting.  The interaction between two opposed but complementary principles produces and sustains equilibrium between invariance and adaptability, on which the viability of any living system depends.

 

Irenaus Eible-Eibesfeldt takes this at a cultural level.  “Progress depends on the balance achieved between the preserving ‘conservative’ forces and those promoting change.

 

In nearly every field of intellectual activity, in geology, biology, biblical criticism, politics, aesthetic theory, and fictional characterization, the distinguishing mission of the 19th century is to reject the concept of static universals and to replace it with the concept of development.

 

In Victorians it is often mingled with obsolete teleology and transcendental metaphysics. 

 

186 - But the core can be squared with Darwinian cultural and literary development.

 

 

Mill, in On Liberty, adopts several equilibrium doctrines.  He doesn’t always make them square. Progress and reform.  Ultimately he seeks an end of change in a stable, utopian order.

 

187 - MA assimilated the formal intellectual dynamic expounded by Newman in the Idea of a University: one directed towards a teleological fulfillment.

 

Newman describes cognitive development in four main elements: the whole, the center, things, and relations.  This makes an orb. 

 

Newman’s model is synchronic; it has no historical dimension, but it can be correlated with one – particularly the centrifigul force in MA’s theory is expansion (Hellenism); the centripetal force is “concentration” (Hebraism or moral passion).

 

188 – The word ‘central’ is used almost universally as a synonym for primary, basic, fundamental, crucial, and essential.

 

For Darwin one central fact is the interaction of the organism and the environment.  All else must be derived from it. For Newman, the one central fact is the interaction of the individual personality with a personal god. 

 

In his autobiography he says from early on he felt, there were “two and two only supreme and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator.”

 

189 – The etymological root of “theory” is “view,” both Darwin and Newman employ perspectival images concordant with the idea that consciousness is a form of mental mapping.

 

Who hasn’t felt the irritation of being in a strange place and feeling they are in a maze?

 

190 – Newman presents this as a metaphor.  But, if Lorenz is correct, consciousness arises in the ‘central representation of space.”  We need coherence to orient ourselves in the environment.

 

FICTIONAL IMAGES:

 

191 – By assimilating Newman’s formal construct to the larger movement of culture, MA points the way to an evolutionary conception of culture.

 

If we segregate MA’s cultural formulations from the idealist teleology with which he associates them, his substantive cultural terms can be assimilated to the formal biological principles enunciated by the evolutionary theorists.

 

He’ll illustrate this with Eliot’s Daniel Deronda and James’ Portrait of a Lady.

 

Deronda does not distinguish himself at the university; he resists the excessive demands for retention without any insight into principles that make connections between knowledge.

 

192 – Gwendolyn is Deronda’s other, but just feels feeble when trying to grow at such a rate.  For Eliot, as MA, Hebraism constitutes the principle of systemic integrity within the total cultural order.

 

Mordecai’s thematic proximity to MA is seen when we learn “a whole Christian is three-fourths a Jew.”  Deronda thus becomes an embodiment of the coherent cultural order restablished on a secular basis.

 

193 – James’ series of essays on Eliot and MA constitute a chronicle of growing admiration, that culminates in definitive pronouncements of their classical canonical value.

 

To 196 we get details of the works’ relation to each other.

 

196 – One of James’ characters, Isabel, exemplifies MA’s conception of culture as a heroic pursuit leading to perfection.

 

The main thematic structure of the book illustrates Hellenic expansion, Hebraic contraction, and affirmation in a complementary synthesis.

 

197 – In MA’s scheme the Hs were decreasing in the scope of their historical oscillation. They were culminating in a teleological progression of culture.  Hellenism was to provide the content and Hebraism the focused energy needed to sustain the ideal.

 

The lead character sees learning as vacant without some private duty that might gather one’s energies to a point.

 

198 – she sees the man she married is not an Arnoldian cultural idealist but an egoist.

 

Isabel eventually takes shelter in religious intuition.

 

199 – Much of James’ work centers on renunciation.

 

The previous section exemplifies the way literary traditions are actually made.  Eliot, James, Arnold, and Conrad recognize each other. 

 

Poor readers see classics as full of hard words; better see it as doctrine; the highest see mutual influence.

 

FORMAL REDUCTIONS:

 

200 – Many Victorian theorists lack MA’s comprehensiveness and break the dichotomy of ‘concentration and expansion’ down into antithetical terms that are promoted or disparaged based on the author’s temperament and ideological proclivities.

 

For example, Carlyle divides history into ages of faith and doubt.  From Carlyle’s perspective faith is good, doubt is evil.  There is no causal mechanism that explains doubts regrettable resurgence.

 

Voltaire makes a whole history of the world that goes from barbarism to civilization and the Enlightenment.  Carlyle sees this as Faustian and locates the heart of darkness in the Enlightenment,

 

201 – Frye is a descendant of Carlyle.  He sees a polarity between myths of freedom and myths of concern.  Concern is in the mythopoetic and Freedom in scientific rationalism.

 

Bakhtin does the ‘poetic’ and the ‘novelistic.’  

 

202 – Bakhtin is celebrated because his emphasis on centrifugality can be synchronized with the deconstructive celebration of irrationality and indeterminancy.

 

203 – His proclivity for the centrifugal has its antecedents in Paters celebrations of atomistic particularity and Heraclitean diffusion.

 

The course of his intellectual development is a gradual moderation of this extreme centrifugality with centripetal forces.

 

He uses MA’s Hellenic as the Asiatic, and the Hebraic as the Attic.

 

204 - His last book, Plato and Platonism (1893) is motivated by a hatred of Platonic centripetality. 

 

Pater is derivative of MA, but he incorporates the negative at the ends of each pole.  MA saw this too.

 

205 – MA says Newman is very Attic.  In the Asiatic England, a Shakespeare was needed to produce Newman’s intellectual delicacy.

 

Pater falsely universalizes the main phases of intellectual history before him.  Locke’s atomistic materialism and Monist transcendental idealism of the Romantic period.

 

206 – In Plato and Platonism, Pater sets Plato over Heraclitus. He sees Heraclitus, though, as a forerunner of development as exemplified in Hegel and Darwin.

 

AJ. Lovejoy and Rene Wellek had a famous debate.  Lovejoy said there was no cohesion to what we call ‘romantics,’ Wellek says they had common philosophical presuppositions that form an imaginatively coherent vision.

 

207 – But seeing a theme doesn’t mean romantics were all the same.

 

MA notes, the grand work of literary genius is synthesis and exposition . . . its gift lies in the faculty of being happily inspired by a certain intellectual atmosphere.

 

MA’s writing is a rebuttal of Shelly’s defense of poetry, that says poetry is the primary source of ideas.

 

Materialists believe that discrete particles are the only reality; idealists see unity, and so the causal priority of mind.

 

208 - Stevens sees poetry as alternative between poetry of real life and pure poetry.

 

209 – Pater mistakenlysees his own sad perplexities as the reflection of a universal problematic inescapably built into the philosophical character of the human condition.

 

In Biophilia, Wilson uses a biological metaphor to describe the formal dynamic of all intellectual life.   “The mind expands like a coral reef, adding new branches and cross-ties.”

 

Popper says progress in science depends on instruction and selection.

 

There is conservation and addition.

 

MA’s political work, for example, builds on Heine’s.

 

210 – Moderns find themselves with many institutions, facts, dogmas, customs, rules, etc which are not modern.  Goethe said, the discrepancy between this immense system and the actual conditions of modern life is the awakening of the modern system.

 

Goethe and Heine put Nature and Reason (respectively) in opposition to custom. We need a slow situated progress. Current academics believe in neither. We need a revolution backwards.

 

BROWNING’S MODEL:

 

Pater, Schiller, Browning and Eliot all believed, mistakenly, that all subjective or introverted art is essentially idealist, transcendental and religious.   Subjective can be evil too. It just means interior.

 

Browning saw life as dialectic.  The objective, extroverted age, makes more facts. The subjective, introverted age synthesizes them. 

 

212 – All synthesis become static conventions. 

 

This corresponds to Kant’s description of pure reason: it has comprehensive  inclusion and unity too.

 

213 – Macaulay is a great historian because he organizes a vast number of particulars in a unified set of causal hypothesis. 

 

214 – Popper wrote about the mind expecting regularities.  The kind of world Foucault and Derrida write of, chaos, ruptures and gaps, in untenable.

 

In Browning’s model at the end of each development the poet’s mind coalesces and becomes identical with the mind of God, the poets mind would contain the universe as a total order.

 

215 – This harmony is presumably the special mechanism via which a divine design realizes itself in time.

 

The phenomenal world need not change at all, and has no impact on the alternation of phases. The world herein is passive and the mind assimilates.

 

The evolutionary process as a whole displays a general tendency towards increased complexity of organization, but in Darwinism, there is no transcendental model of organization that regulates this development. 

 

In culture, there are a lot of dead ends.  But, there is also assimilation and synthesis. 

 

We do this in the context of our environments.

 

216 – Browning proposes a false dichotomy between the properties of the mind and raw data of observation.  Herbivores transform plant nutrients into protein. 

 

In culture there is a chain of influence and assimilation.  Pater assimilates Coleridge, Santayana, Pater, each is influenced by their predecessor.

 

THE PROBLEM OF CATEGORICAL LIMITATION:

 

217 – This is a complex process of negotiation in which an author accepts, rejects, modifies, and combines figurations from his or her predecessors.

 

218 – Herein JC looks at several stanzas as building upon and integrating earlier writer’s work.

 

221 – In the next section we’ll make a metaphysical structure of Darwinian thought without falsely juxtaposing atomistic materialism and monistic idealism.  He will show how animistic projections of a transcendental spirit is a mistake in hierarchical organization.  And, how noting this alters the religious imagination of the West.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

A MODEL OF POSSIBLE THEMATIC MODELS

Page 222

 

Figurative structures can be divided into 3 basic kinds: aesthetic, tonal, and thematic. 

 

Aesthetic structure is sensory; tonal is the author’s attitude / affect (comedy versus tragedy are affective); and thematic (including abstract concepts and implications.

The fourth is will or intentional action.

 

223 - Formalistic studies remain an active part of the profession and there is enough agreement in terms to carry on a reasonable debate.  But, with thematic, we have a great conflict of paradigms: Freudian, Derridean, Marxist, etc.

 

He offers an alternative thematic structure: The Thematic Structure of the Darwinian Paradigm.

 

The Thematic Table is organized by arithmetic inclusion:

Cosmos:

Life:

The specifically human,

Society;

The Family;

The Heterosexual couple:

And the Individual.

 

Within the individual there are four structures: sensation, feeling reason and the will.   Imagination is a synthetic faculty that employs all these faculties.

 

This is a minimalist set of categories.

 

224 - It is taken after the discipline structure that began to cohere in the Victorian era.  (The most important texts that accompanied this formation were: Newman’s The Idea of a University; Huxley’s Science and Culture and MA’s Literature and Science).

 

Cosmos: Physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, etc.

Life: Biology: botany and zoology; anthropology.   

The specifically human: anthropology is under zoology (bounded by social sciences).

Society:

The Family:

The Heterosexual couple:

And the Individual.

 

Darwin said ignoring of all transmitted mental qualities is the most serious blemish on JS Mill’s work.

 

225 – It would be hard to imagine an actual historical society to which these categories didn’t apply.  All have some sense of a cosmic order, recognize the unique quality of living things, identify humanity as distinct, organize social, familial, and sexual relations in some way and recognize the individual.

 

In his chart, the arrows pointing out and in represent the reciprocal influence of things above on the individual and vice versa.

 

Each work of literature is itself a cognitive map produced by the mind of the author.

 

Cosmos:

Life: Bios.

The specifically human: Antropos.

Society: Polis.

The Family: Genos.

The Heterosexual couple: Dyad.

And the Individual. Psyche.

 

Cognitive map:

Sensory: Aisthesis.

Emotional: Eros / pathos.

Conceptual: Logos.

Will: Ethos.

 

227 – All consciousness is in the individual, but they do not speak for themselves alone.  Emerson wrote:

 

The poet is representative.  He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the common wealth . . . “

 

Taine wrote, “it is by representing the mode of being of a while nation and a whole age, that a writer rallies round him the sympathies of an entire age and an entire nation.”

 

All works have a thematic structure, though not consciously.

 

228 – Taine has three basic elements of culture: race, milieu and moment. And, individuals go at the center of these. External features include words, ideas, expressions, as avenues that converge to the genuine man, and his mass of faculties.

 

229 – Bickerton notes the primacy of individual existence in our language.  We play roles and verbs refer to us.

 

A species not seeking to understand and control its environment would not have survived long enough to develop language, the primacy of agency must come from the effort to understand and control.

 

230 – The Brain is a system for processing information: (Characteristics of the environment of the creature).  It gives us our sense of self and connection.

 

Oxygen enters the lungs, and subatomic particles in us intersect with the cosmos.

 

231 – Inclusive fitness guards the integrity of individual organisms.  It is made up of survival and reproduction.  No faculty is independent.  Psyche is also under bios.

 

Cognitive map:

Sensory: Aisthesis.

Emotional: Eros / pathos.

Conceptual: Logos.

Will: Ethos.

 

Many people have a version of this division in their system: Plato, Aristotle, Burke, Hume, Kant, Keats, Arnold, Pater, Frye, Jung, etc, . . .

 

These also correlate with categories in modern neurology: sensory perception, reasoning, intentional action, and the affects of pain and pleasure.

 

232 – And this, according to Eccles, correlates reasonably well with actual neurological phenomenon.

 

233 – Metaphysical concepts like in Kant’s system come from poor terminology.

 

234 – Edmund Burke was in the empirical tradition, he said the psyche comes from sense impressions, affects, the ideas abstracted from sense perceptions and volition.

 

Coleridge was an idealist.  He identifies the ‘transcendental spirit as a “primary IMAGINATION.”  

 

235 – He then multiplies categories, but they are all in Burke’s work.

 

The desire to invest the imagination with a particularly creative power associated with transcendental spirit is the most distinguishing characteristic of romantic theory.

 

But, if we remove obfuscatory language, even romantics get the basic elements, we get a strong core of consensus.  And, the Darwinian paradigm fits this psyche model in with other levels of science.

 

236 – Different authors emphasize different modes of psyche. 

 

Pater is senses; Empedocles is intellectual; Zarathustra is will.

 

237 – “Expansion” and “concentration” cut across biological laws and apply to all structures, organic and inorganic. They are correlated with “extroversion” and “introversion.” [components of psyche].  

 

In MA they are Hellenism and Hebraism.  Hellenism occupies itself with senses and understaniding (aisthesis and logos), Hebraism with conduct that is compounded of the capacity to abstract larger consequences of behavior (logos) and take intentional actions (ethos) in accordance with the established order (polis).   Hebraism is also of the heart and imagination (aisthesis, logos, eros / pathos).  This, in religion, usually has cosmos overtones. MA says when complementary, the senses and understanding, the heart and imagination compose ‘imaginative reason’ (as in Sophocles).  These come from particular ethnic groups (polis). 

 

In Deronda and Portrait of a Lady, expansion and concentration are integrated with personal temperament, sexual identity, family relations, social situation, cultural milieu, and religious / philosophical visions.

 

238 – The problem of categorical limitations: Family can be extended or not, these categories are not exhaustive, but comprehensive; they constitute the irreducible minimum for an outline of human concerns.

 

239 – Up to the polic Taine uses the same categories he uses.  He says that England is more sex differentiated than France. There is overlap with this historical model.  

 

240 – All literature is a map of man, Taine says.

 

Popper has emergent properties and says that life constitutes something utterly new in the universe.

 

241 – JC has not made  consciousness a distinct category as it only really becomes distinctive in regards to the individual human psyche – it is in his system as ‘the individual.’

 

There is a distinction, in that Popper really separates the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ and JC does not.

 

242 – The world is accessible to rational understanding, not because the world is cognitive or mental, but because the mind is adapted to the world. Rational thought is the mental correlative for the physical order of nature.  Popper’s ‘emergent properties’ is residual idealism.

 

Conscious psychic phenomena are not unique to humans, but literary representations clearly are.

 

JC has also not registered the distinction between subconscious and conscious. It is not a sharp division, it is a continuum.

 

243 – A central preoccupation of all James fiction is to map out the border between conscious and unconscious experience.  In this way, he is like all English satire, laughing at the belief versus the actual feeling or motive.

 

244 - Like Darwin, JC sees language as the chief medium via which humans have developed their peculiarly high level of consciousness.

 

244 – Mind goes from the simplest internal representations to humans’ complex and sophisticated model.   Mind and psyche are the ways to create ‘internal representations.’

 

The three components of poststructuralism are Marxism, Freudian psychoanalysis and deconstruction.  All 3 are problematic, but together they create a world view.

 

245 – The PS worldview is, however, parasitic.  It says language can no longer be true, but it can be false and so theoretical discourse becomes a search-and-destroy operation.

 

246 – By isolating formal regularities in language, myth or culture, structuralism sought to analyze them.  Poststructuralism kidnapped structuralism.  This sort of negativity could be aimed at the ‘thematic table.’

 

248 – Poetry is not illuminated by the proposition that it offers incoherent representations of unreality. 

 

Much Victorian lit discussed the disintegration of a common cultural element.  And, so they sought alternatives in sense (Woolf, Joyce), personal identity (Mann, Proust, Lawrence), religion (TS Eliot) and art (MA and Pater). 

 

INTERPRETIVE APPLICATIONS OF THE CATEGORIES:

 

249 – Academic literary theorists may be fascinated with negativity and randomness, but poets, playwrights and novelists seldom are.

 

Interpretive application of the categories:

 

Each category is a specific field of concern  and each is a specific figurative structure.

 

250 – As fields of concern , both the author and the characters can be procuppied with sexual romance, family or the larger social world.

 

As figurative structures an element is personified, represented in a character. 

 

Protagonists can be motivated by the need: 1) to develop themselves (Bildungsroman or psychodrama; 2) sexual romance (love stories); 3) to nurture or establish right family relations (domestic dramas); 4) to reform society or establish their position within it (political drama; novel of society); 5) to define some peculiar human ideal (heroic quests, cultural romance); 6) to live and thrive or come to terms with death (naturalist fiction or works where the author concentrates on man’s animal nature); 7) to achieve a religious vision or sense of the cosmic order (religious and philosophical dramas). 

 

251 – These are often situated next to each other.

 

Each of these can be personified.

 

252 – Every character represents an individual person as well as a set of thematic relations among the components of that structure.

 

No literary work could wholly dispense with any of the categories in the thematic table.

 

When we ask, ‘what is a work about?’ we want to know where the figurative elements fit in.

 

We must be able to determine the relative amount of attention any given work devotes to the problems and concerns of growing up, sexual romance, familes, social and political life, human nature, life itself or the universe.

 

253 – The psychodrama is introverted and highly symbolic. Bildungsroman.  Kunstlerroman is the self-reflective poem.  In these the author takes their own cognitive activity as the subject – Shakespeare, Pope, Keats, Yeats.

 

254 – Sexual romance / dyad is the majority of works: Romeo and Juliet; Adam and Eve, etc.

 

255 – Darwin’s assumption that the sentiments of the family and social cohesion are closely linked is borne out in the literature.  Oedipus Rex is about family relations  Hamlet says all is rotten in Denmark, but it is really just his family. 

 

At the level of polis, we get a lot of Shakespeare. 

 

256 – The next sphere is anthropic.  Foucault asserts “before the end of the eighteenth century, man did not exist.”

 

Odysseus’ men turn to pigs; Hamlet broods endlessly over the nature of man.  Pope has a lovely poem about man quoted here.

 

257 – Huxley’s ‘On the relation of man to the lower animals’ fits here.  He wonders if the saint will give up their vocation because our appetites come from quadrapeds.

 

258 – Darwin clearly read and incorporated Huxley’s essays on the subject.  Huxley distinguishes man via our ‘noble endowment of intelligible and rational speech.”

 

259 – Via orders of complexity, Darwin allows for ‘progress’ without teleology or violating natural selection.   And, he says, “Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale.”

 

The next step up is the biotic. The Magic Mountain focuses on life and death.

 

260 – Ultimately, Castorp chooses Enlightenment over destructive nihilism. 

 

261 – In the cosmos, the Iliad shifts back and forth from the Gods to man.  Milton’s Satan travels past Sin and Death to reach the earth.

 

262 – Deconstruction does indeterminancy and believes that any work can be read in any way.  JC’s system says we can read more or less accurately.  There is reading and misreading.

 

263 – What of symbols?  Light and dark are affective and visual properties. Light is associated with day.  Night threatened survival back in the day.  Kids are still scared of it.  And, this connects us to the location of the sun. 

 

264 - Conrad’s Heart of Darkness uses light and dark for philosophical reflection.

 

265 – In it the Thames fuses with the Congo.  Prior to Darwin, we believed in an august benevolence in the providential order. Kurtz has a fall.

 

266 – Conrad as a critic confronted the implications of Darwin.  For him (as for Darwin in the Descent of Man) the religious force that molds men from darkness is the moral intuition of women. 

 

267 – But Conrad says, “we must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own lest ours gets worse.”

 

CHAPTER SIX

THE SEXUAL DYAD

Page 268

 

SOCIAL CAUSATION AND BIOLCULTURAL ITERACTION:

 

The sexual dyad is a central component of nearly all literary figurations and an urgent concern in our cultural history.   So herein, he’ll give it special attention.

 

269 - Herein he looks at Donna Haraway’s deconstruction assaults on biology. She says biology is “a branch of political discourse, not a compendium of objective truth.”

 

This means she can say whatever she wants based on her own political preconceptions. 

 

No.  JC says, science works via the standard of proof.  Yes, knowledge is provisional and imperfect. But that doesn’t give license for willful ignorance or arbitrary assertions.

 

270 – The basic evolutionary view of gender differences is that they result from a blend of innate qualities and culture.

 

Lorraine Code says even primate differences in gender are due to culture!

 

271 – Some characteristics are environmentally stable and some are environmentally labile.  The care of babies and young children and attachment to parents are found in nearly all members of the human race. 

 

GENDERED CATEGORIES:

 

272 - No one says all is determined with no learning.  So the debate is between those who call for a blend and those who say all is social conditioning.

 

Gendered categories.

 

In many literary figurations, gender categories are defined by family functions, these are correlated with community, humanity, life, and the cosmos.

 

In strongly patriarchal paradigms, like Plato, masculinity is associated with logos and ethos: reason and will. There is God the father.

 

Socrates only condemns feminine art. He allows art that is a hymn to the gods and praises famous men. 

 

Edmund Burke says ‘the beautiful’ is feminine and ‘the sublime’ is masculine.  The sublime is part of pain and fixed on competition and regards women as objects with whom he can enjoy himself.

 

274 – Beauty is harmed by strength and an appearance of delicacy and fragility is necessary for beauty.

 

In the critique of judgment, Kant follows Plato in identifying the masculine with reason and the cosmic logos and setting it in opposition to the feminine biotic sphere.

 

275 – Sexist, but feminists and empirical studies agree that women are more oriented towards social unity, cooperation and bonding.  Men are more competitive and aggressive.

 

In Austen, traditional sex roles balance each other out.

 

276 - H. G. Wells was Huxley’s student and one of the first to put Darwin in fiction.  In the Island of Dr. Moreau women remain closer to animals than men.

 

277 – There is also the figure of the wise woman and woman as moral hero.

 

278 – In Wordsworth women have symbolic authority, but they are not authors, they do not speak for themselves: the narrator speaks for them.

 

It is apparently difficult for either gender to speak authoritatively from the perspective of the other.

 

279 - Moll Flanders is a man in a skirt.

 

ELIOT’S REVISION OF THE PATRIARCHAL PARADIGM

 

Eliot accepts the traditional division of the faculties into sensory, feeling, reason and will, but she expands the range of variation among individuals.

 

280 – Unlike Plato, Eliot does not envision and irreconcilable antagonism between reason and will on the one side and sense and feeling on the other.

 

Her characters use reason to overcome self and affirm human community.  Her ideal is fully androgynous.  

 

She doesn’t JC says, understand men and makes weak male characters.

 

281 – Here he goes into the personality theory of some guy named H. J. Eysenck.  There are three main factors in personality: neuroticism, psychoticism, and extraversion. 

 

282 – Evidence shows these are physiological and relatively stable.  But they don’t make fixed quantities, they constitute a range that get activated by the situation – a continuum.

 

Eysenck’s problem is that he ads values to it.  He treats introversion as a deficiency; neuroticism is a defect.  These are adaptive in certain situations.

 

284 - But these correlate well with Eliot’s work.

 

The literary and the scientific traditions have both  been pursuing categories that correspond to real, observable characteristics.

 

287 – Eliot, against the grain, reverses natural gender roles. Deronda does not actually seem like a man.  Gwendolen is young and beautiful and Deronda shows no interest.

 

288 – Marriage in fiction commonly symbolizes a resolution of conflicts on multiple levels.  Ladislaw and Dorothea symbolize the resolution of Romantic aestheticism and Victorian political idealism.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

THE THEMATIC STRUCTURE OF THE DARWINIAN PARADIGM

Page 291

 

A DARWINIAN CONCEPTION OF THE SPECIFICALLY HUMAN

 

The thematic fields work at the cultural level.  Each culture has its own normative mythic, philosophical order and literature can work with or in opposition to it.

 

In this chapter JC explains how the Darwinian system eliminates animism and archetypal teleology.

 

The principle of logical hierarchy in which the categories are arranged is according to arithmetical inclusiveness: cosmos includes society.  But one is not causal of the other in any direction.

 

292 – In the descent of man Darwin arranges human life under corporeal structure, intellect, and social instincts.  He notes that we’re the most dominant animal ever.

 

It has anthropos at a social and intellectual level.

 

293 – Richard Alexaner sees man as ‘somatic’ that is growing himself individually, and then reproductive, giving resources to others.

 

Darwin himself identifies two parts to human social organization: 1) hierarchy and 2) sympathy.

 

295 – Reproductive functions interact causally with social organization, and specific forms of social organization modify the expression of innate reproductive characteristics.

 

But no society could eliminate sexual reproduction and survive.  So there are strong genetic limitations to the modifications that any given society can bring oabout in sexual identity and family functions.

 

297 – Both reproductive drives and somatic interests take precedence over cultural forces. Cultural forces are emergent properties at the third level.  They emerge from elements at the first and second levels.   


Why do women have menopause and then keep going?  It is for the system. Not all is a social construct.

 

The direction is up and down, not causal like Marxists say about culture and the superstructure.

 

 

298 – In their biography of Darwin, Desmond and Moore say that natural selection is only a metaphor for the socioeconomic conditions in Victorian Britain.

 

299 – Their getting praise tells you about the ‘culturalist’ ideological climate in academia. 

 

301 – Geertz wondered why women are dominant in primatology.  Because chimps are like children and you need patience to deal with them.  Geertz refuses to even consider this.

 

302 – Trotsky in a fit of culturalism said, Egyptian, Indian and Persian art have a lot in common because the social conditions were common.

 

303 – JC writes ‘culturalism’ again.

 

304 – Eagleton’s Marxist interpretation of Wuthering Heights is forces as all are small land owners. 

 

305 – Marxists who display social sympathy create a more secure social environment and advance their image as moral exemplars.  They also rise in status because they take business people down a peg.

 

306 – Nietzsche is lauded as early PS.  But, we don’t read about his sadism. 

 

307 – 8 – On human faculties, Darwin gave four levels: 1) programmed instinct; 2) simple emotions; 3) more complex emotions; 4) more intellectual faculties and emotions.

 

A METAPHAPHYSICAL STRUCTURE OF DARWINIAN THOUGHT

 

309 – Huxley slips back into Cartesian dichotomization at times.  Huxley does this in the essay ‘Evolution and Ethics’ in which he segregates human ethical behavior – volitions – from the natural order.

 

310 – JC will compare the Christian and modern scientific metaphysic.  Darwinism eliminates the animistic and teleological elements in the cosmic order.   This means it is against the Victorian teleology of cultural history that Marx and Arnold adopt.

 

The three central figures of the family, mother, father, and child, are used to establish the anthropomorphic nature of the cosmos in Christianity.

 

The material paradigm, the cosmos is segregated from all specifically human qualities and affects.  The faculties and passions come from man’s animal nature.

 

311 – Veblen thought there were three stages of cultural history:  savage, barbarian and modern / scientific.   He argued that the animist cosmology still dominates the intelligence of the ‘normal man.’  The savagery one lasted the longest, so it has the most residual hold.

 

312 – There is a scientifically minded elite that occupies the apex of cultural growth. And these are different from the animistic savage man.  But do these represent fundamentally different forms of mental activity?  JC says no.  Why?  Conceptual discovery is a vital element of practical intelligence.  There is a continuum between ordinary life and genius.

 

313 - This vision of progress taking us to social progress is teleological.

 

314 – In Darwinism there is no perfect term or equilibrium to which we’re working.

 

In H. G. Wells Time Machine, the Elio have been perfected and they are eaten by Morlocks.  They evolved to perfection, there was stasis, and so, decline.

 

316 – In the Origin, Darwin sometimes speaks as if natural selection were working towards the best of all possible worlds.   This helps to sustain his own spirits while dispassionately probing the mechanisms of nature.

 

317 – This providential rhetoric disappears in the Descent of Man.   But, sometimes based on Herder, this sort of providential scheme also enters the heads of refined modern authors.

 

318 – And these Victorian schemes of cultural history culminate in Arnold’s cultural theory in which the world is progressing toward a climactic phase of resolution and fulfillment [where did MA say that??].

 

In John Dewey’s “the influence of Darwin on philosophy” he contrasts the ancient, Aristotelian and Darwinian models of ‘species’ as eternal forms or changing.

 

319 – The shift from animistic myth to mechanistic science places mechanical processes on  a higher hierarchical level than the dramatistic laws of human subjectivity. Victorian culture often tries to evade this shift.  It says culture moves, via cosmic intentionality, towards ‘perfection.’

 

320 – Even E. O. Wilson doesn’t get it.  He says there are three great mythologies in modern life: Marxism, traditional religion and scientific materialism.  He says that science presents and alternative mythology to religion (Marxism is just wrong); one that starts in the big bang and is still going. There is no direction!

 

321 – Whether declining from a golden age or ascending to Enlightenment, these changes can only be registered in relation to stable criteria of comparison. 

 

The scale of evolution is very slow. 

 

322 - We should look at literature in its time, not as an example of progress, but more on the level of archeology; it gives us evidence of historic mindsets now gone.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT

PATER’S FIGURES OF PERPLEXITY

Page 323

 

THE CRITICALSITUATION:

 

Pater’s Marius the Epicurean: His Sensations and Ideas, is a fictionalized autobiography.  One group of critics things Marius dies an incorrigible skeptic, another thinks he did so as a Christian convert.

 

As this chapter is a specific reading about a specific book, I did not summarize it closely.  The main point of the chapter is illusive.  It seems to be a use of categories to really see what a book means, so as to not deconstruct it.

 

325 – But the idea that this is an inkblot test is premature.  It is a purposeful representation of unresolved conflicts.  

 

JC looks at the metaphysical and the psychosexual.   The lead character, Marius, and Pater are homosexual.

 

327 - This, and his reliance on sensory stimulation, powerfully influences the way he shapes the cultural symbols available to him.

 

THE THEMATIC STRUCTURE OF MARIUS:

 

328 – There are three problematic epiphanic moments that each have a distinct psychosexual character and is associated with a specific type of philosophy or religion: Hericliteanism, Stoic idealism, and Christianity.

 

329 – The distinguishing characteristic of Stoicism is the exercise of will. 

 

THE PSYCHOSEXUAL MATRIX:

 

331 – The father dies and represents a negative element: the absence and ‘liberty’ as the absence of restraint.  His mother is very nurturing.

 

332 – Marius makes the death of his parents a symbol for the gendered components of his own personality.  When dad dies he becomes more feminine. When mom dies, more masculine.

 

THE THREE EPIPHANIES:

 

334 – This gender swing forms a matrix for his philosophical and religious conceptions. 

 

335 – The first two epiphanies are impersonal, the Christian one brings moral consciousness.

 

336 – In Plato and Platonism Pater says that Plato’s sensuous style gave his metaphysics a sense of reality.

 

337 – Metaphysics and materialism are mutually exclusive ideas for Marius.

 

338 – Marius seeks to use Christianity as a medium through which to tintegrate the transcendental and the natural.

 

339 – Marius contrasts his moral sensitivity and Aurelius’ callous indifference to suffering.

 

BURYING THE DEAD:

 

342 – Northrop Frye said the essence of tragedy is an ‘epiphany of law.’  For Marius this is a submission to psychosexual norms.

 

FADING ECHOES:

PATER’S CANONICAL STATUS:

 

345 – Pater has been given canonical status recently.  Bloom does so because of his own hedonistic ethics.   Miller sees all work as Freudian psychosexual. So it ishard to recognize what he sees in Pater.

 

Probably Pater’s understanding of his family is and psychosexual situation is better than Miller’s. 

 

As Pater is among the most introverted of writers, there is nearly no representation in his work.

 

The efforts to promote Pater to canonical status, miss his subject. We need to respect his vision, not filter it through misleading ideological affiliations or sentimental falsifications.

 

PART TWO

POLEMIC ENGAGEMENTS

 

 

CHAPTER NINE

SEX AND DISINTERESTED SOCIAL SENTIMENT

Page 351

 

SEX AND UTOPIA IN DARWIN’S DESCENT:

 

JC opposes premature moral reduction that is one of the characteristics of sociobiology.  Men aren’t all one way and women another.  These are balances / reflections of each other, not warring certainties.

 

352 - The optimism in Origin that is missing in Descent, is based on a specifically female virtue.

 

The point of Descent is that all human faculties – intellectual, moral or emotional – can be derived from faculties in lower animals.

 

353 – For Darwin morality consists in a tension between momentary impulse and the integrity of our larger systemic relations – especially to other people.

 

The social moral qualities include “sympathy, fidelity, and courage.”

 

Masculine qualities derive from competition for females. And, Darwin thinks a tribe with superior sympathy, fidelity and courage would conquer.  So these positive qualities would diffuse throughout the world.

 

354 – But, Darwin himself cannot tolerate the moral implications of the vision he created – endless conquest, assimilation and extermination. 

 

So he describes a 3-stage progression from tribe, to nation-state, to universal brotherhood.

 

The argument for universal brotherhood presupposes the expansion of the within-group altruism to all.  But, brotherly love, perhaps universally, correlates with the presence of an enemy.

 

So, brotherly love universally would lead to a dissolving of the ingroup.

 

355 – To isolate male and female characteristics is to fail to see that they arose together in balance.

 

Darwin messes this up when he discusses ‘higher and lower’ moral values.

 

356 – The male characteristics Darwin regrets are the source of male achievement. 

 

There do, though, seem to be differences in psychological organization.

 

Men appear to be more strongly oriented towards math and science.

 

358 – Much current feminist theory tends to propound a moral ethos almost identical to Darwin’s.  They believe that men are more competitive and women more sharing and good.

 

359 – But there is evidence that, though women are cooperative in intrafemale relations, they are acutely aware of status, rank, hierarchy and competitive advantage among males.

 

There is no reason to believe that men find a woman’s ability to compete successfully with other woman attractive.

 

360 – Henry James has a strong female component; Eliot, male.  These are legitimate categories via which to judge a work. 

 

The interaction of male and female characteristics is a central organizing principle in all cultures. 

 

361 – Coleridge said a great mind is androgynous. Woolf said perhaps he meant porous and resonant.  And she added, Mr. Kipling or others are androgynous, they are too male, crude and immature.  Huxley and Wells too.

 

Shakespeare was androgynous. Shelley too sexless.  Proust was too much of a woman, Woolf said.

 

362 – Before our expanded life-expectancy, women’s lives barely exceeded their child bearing and rearing years.

 

Birth control and technology have changed women’s rights.  Men were never much against this.  The idea of men oppressing women is a melodramatic narrative.  But, men and women have not been in conflict, they have cooperated.

 

364 – Sociobiology seems to only see competition by selfish folks.

 

365 – Huxley and Mill think that nature is wholly antagonistic and so morality is unnatural, it comes from resisting nature. Sociobiology has the same predisposition.  But, we cooperated. 

 

367 – The necessary sympathy for cooperation, Darwin largely locates in the transcendental realm. This suspends reproductive advantage.

 

368 – A species that was totally selfless could not have evolved.  Dawkins said, as much as we might want to believe otherwise, “universal love and the welfare of the species as a whole are concepts that simply do not make evolutionary sense.”

 

Evolutionary theory suggests that if we have motives contrary to inclusive fitness, they should produce self-conflict. 

 

JC proposes two hypothesis: 1) Sympathy is highly constrained by group-identification and 2) group identification is itself strongly constrained by the unit of socioeconomic organization to which any individual belongs.

 

369 – Eliot and Darwin’s love for all / universal brotherhood transcends any effective unit of socioeconomic organization.  One can be disinterested in one’s own immediate, individual interests, but only if one has subsumed that interest within a larger category: one’s class, political party, ideological group, (370) race, religion or a concept such as civilization, cultural or harmony.   IN THE BOOK.

 

370 – Matthew Arnold seeks disinterested culture.  But it means “western civilization regarded as culminating in Victorian gentlemen with a predominantly classical education and refined literary tastes.”  His ‘culture’ coincides with his effective socioeconomic group.

 

Darwin’s science cultivation depended on the existence of high civilization, European, and more specifically, English. To have his disinterested position, he must prioritize his own advanced, Western, scientific civilization – and it shows in that he looks forward to the extermination of savage lower folk’s culture.

 

372 – The illusion of disinterested social sentiment is merely a special case within the more general illusion that pure autonomy of any sort is possible.  

 

SYMONS ON SEX DIFFERENCES:

 

373 – An organism is autonomous only with respect to a specific set of constraints by which it does not happen to be regulated.  The only wholly autonomous order would be the universe itself.  If you posit autonomous human values of love, sympathy, morality, justice, and ‘rights’ recognition, you are a metaphysical transcendentalist.

 

Symons has more technical info than Darwin did, but a less adequate conception of elementary principles.

 

He says males are mostly promiscuous and typified by homosexual behavior.  He takes no account of males’ need for stable long-term relationships with women, and takes no account of rearing successful offspring as a proximate male motive.

 

374 – Two prosoitions; 1) human behavior is complex and conflicted; 2) the desire for reproductive success  is not only an ultimate cause, but a proximate one too.

 

If males establish the social norms, and promiscuity is nowhere near the norm, then promiscuity is not the male norm.  It is a tendency in conflict, held in check by a stronger desire to sustain relationships.

 

375 – Now the increase in female headed households is due to the social welfare system that makes it possible.

 

376 – In all known societies, the male desire is has been emphatically subordinated to the desire for stable relationships. 

 

377 – Symons says proximate causes are most important: Trivers, inclusive fitness. This debate, generically, constitutes the largest single point of theoretical disagreement in evolutionary psychology.

 

379 – Samuel Johnson said “whatever withdraws us from our senses makes the past distant and the future predominate over the present, advances the dignity of thinking beings.

 

He thinks this wise.  Wiser than the idea that the genders are at war and that we need to follow our crude natures, because we are at base crude.

 

THE LARGER SEXUAL LOGIC:

 

380 – Darwin argues that moral life depends on recognizing a distinction between immediate impulses and larger systemic needs, and sympathy is a crucial proximate motive.  But subordinating ourselves to this logic of reproduction, men and women together create a framework for moral behavior and judgment.

 

We have different personalities and so relate to the larger picture and our impulses differently.

 

381 – Darwin failed to formulate a moral norm that includes both male and female characteristics. 

 

As such his wife, posthumously, edited his autobiography to not offend religious sentiments.  Darwin affirmed female virtues, and they removed his intellectual accomplishments – via his wife.

 

CHAPTER TEN

ARCHETYPALISM POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

Page 382

 

Prior to PS the most important literary criticism was that of Northrop Frye.  He sees his work as complimentary to that of the New Critics. He rejects attempts to identify causal laws outside the formal structure of the literature itself.

 

Frye is a Christian mystic, while Derrida is a nihilistic skeptic, but the both represent the positive and negative of Platonic archetypalism.

 

FRYE: ANATONOMY OF THE RED CROSS CRITIC:

 

383 – Frye wants a unified theory of lit.  He does it for lit, but in a way that segregates him from the scientific community.  His system is built around archetypes, that, problematically, do not change.

 

Like Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelly, Hegel, Carlyle, and Emerson he wishes to reestablish the transcendental spirit as the medium of human signification.

 

384 – Frye says “poetry can only be made out of other poems.”

 

A poem is made out of other poems, the author is only the midwife.

 

There is “the order of nature,” and “the order of words.”  For him empiricism is a myth.

 

385 – He wishes to turn MA up a notch. Frye says, for MA, “culture was a myth of concern which held the essense of everything good in conservative, liberal and radical values, but the real source of tradition was Hellenic, not Hebraic.  

 

Frye inverts this saying the “Judeaeo-Christian myth” is fundamental.

 

He believes that each generation stands on the shoulders of the last, but there is no progress and poetry keeps revolving around the same archetypal themes.

 

386 – Thus literature exists in its own world.  The total verbal system, is coterminous with the cosmos.  That is the total verbal system is God.

 

Problems with Frye partially inspired JC to create his taxonomy.  He realized that Victorians all strove to replace the fading religious.  We needed a better system.

 

Frye’s system revolves around the life cycle represented in seasonal guise.  Spring is comedy, summer is romance, fall tragedy and winter irony.

 

JC says he is right to put literature within a frame of life cycle: Growth, health, procrasion are the conditions of pleasure; injury sickness, decay and death, those of pain.

 

387  - But Frye has limits, like tying tragedy to decay.   As Frye himself declares, tragedy represents an “epiphany of law.”  It requires a violation of the normative order. 

 

Macbeth murders the King.  Unfelial behaviors of Lear’s daughters. Crime in Hamlet.

 

The normative cultural order organizes elementary functions of human existence in accordance with the specifically human complex of innate psychological complexes.

 

But in Frye, the use of seasons actually serves to put nature under logos, but as a generalization.  This seals lit from scientific advance.  It also takes away from the actual verbal content of literature. 

 

Rather than examples, JC says literature is a form of knowledge.  The desire to construct reliable cognitive maps assumes unmistakable prominence in a period of cultural disorientation, but the need for understanding is a crucial motivation for literature in all periods.

 

388 – Using Christian knight imagery, Frye associates himself with the biotic vitality of spring and associates his enemy (nature) with winter and death.   

 

389 – This makes irony an expression of spiritual despair or demonic negativity, it has no affinity with realism.  Comedy and tragedy are based on affects of pleasure and pain.  Irony is not an elementary affect.

 

His scheme helps him solve the formal problem that arises from eliminating the author as a source of meaning (since he only wants to read from the text), but the solution only complicates the original problem.


He must, therefore, make the average audience’s viewpoint to interpret the text. This viewpoint is measured against a hierarchy of protagonists, and each has an intrinsic value: Gods (myth) Heroes (romance) normal people (realism) subnormal people (satire).  This is very clumsy.

 

390 – Literary works are written by living human beings, and they bear demonstrable relations to a reality that we have every reason to believe exists outside of literary representations. 

 

“Whether there is . . . any latent principle of consciousness driving towards self-realization, I would venture neaither to affirm nor to deny.”   But we can reject the mythic supernaturalism that animates Frye’s system.

 

DERIDA AMONG THE ARCHETYPES:

 

In 1963 – Derrida helped to establish his own name by attacking Foucault’s Madness and Civilization.  He attacked it for not being as radical as it might be.

 

391 – Derrida suggested that philosophy, as exemplified by him, demonstrated the impossibility of writing history, as exemplified by Foucault.

 

392 – Foucault may slip in prominence, but JC says Derrida’s place is secure as the founder of the near orthodox creed of the Modern Language Association.

 

393 – He thinks Derrida’s prominence tells us a lot about the philosophical shallowness and cynical self-promotion of contemporary critical theory.

 

The distinctive thesis of Derrida is that nothing exists outside of language and that language itself consists only of differences.

 

394 – He dissolves the ‘center’ but we are not told what the ‘center’ is.   Looking for a house’s center would be silly.  Does the house not exist?

 

395 – His odd use of the word ‘fixed’ also confuses more than it clarifies.  And, Derrida falsely suggests that the ‘center’ and the ‘origin’ are the same.

 

396 – Species don’t move towards an ultimate ‘perfect’ final state.

 

Again, not all coherent structures have a center; all structures have origins but change over time, so they are not ‘fixed’, not all organizing principles are origins; not all origins have goals; all interact with larger systemic conditions.

 

399 – Derrida conflates these concepts with being. By combining them with quasi-Saussurean fallacies about the nature of language, he eliminates any world outside of language and all positive elements within language.

 

The Darwinian conception of species is neither archetypal nor teleological, they come from interactions with the environment – inner and outer mixing.

 

400 – Searle calls Derrida a classical metaphysician.

 

401 – Searl suggests that language must be situated in the biological, psychological and social construct of human beings.  JC says we must ultimately think of knowledge as a biological function. 

 

Studying language cannot give us full access to the principles through which ife is organized; to understand language we must understand it within life. 

 

Leslie Stephen says astronomy changes us because it shows ‘we live in a wretched little atom of a planet dancing about the sun, instead of being the whole universe.”

 

402 – Darwin impacted the way we see the world, but these changes built upon a continuous tradition of scientific development.

 

405 – There is no cultural norm that is not itself an articulation of the relation between innate human propensities and their environmental conditions.  The products of such organismic  / environmental relations are called phenotypes.  Any given cultural order is thus a collectively regulated phenotype.

 

The cultural environment is itself influenced by the genes that affect social behavior.

 

406 – What can be absorbed and reacted to is as relevant input and what is ignored as irrelevant depends completely upon the innate structure of the organism.

 

In fact, Lorenz tells us, open systems that can learn are more genetically structured, not less, than closed programs.

 

407 – Derrida has an incredibly inflated sense of his own importance and simply ignores the changes modern science has wrought in our understanding.

 

Why has, then deconstruction had such an influence?  Provincialism.  Deconstruction also eliminates the boundary between primary and secondary literature, thus making critics creative writers.

 

408 – This has made for a ponderously playful sort of verbal doodling, in the guise of criticism.

 

It is possible to assess the artistic value of figurative structures in a way that takes account of the validity of the concepts implicit in the structure. Arnold formulates the basic principle in “the function of criticism at the present time.”  He argues that literary works, as distinct from philosophy do not actually create ideas but organize them in an aesthetically pleasing way.  presenting them in the most effective and attractive combinations, - making beautiful works with them, in short.”

 

409 – And, these are not just to be ideas, but the best ideas.  The best ideas that are appropriate to the time.  Deconstructive critics work with ideas, but not the best ideas, not in the way that, say Milton’s Satan did.

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

DISCURSIVE PRACTICES AND SCIENTIFIC REVISION

Page 410

 

The axis of deconstructive textualism is Freudian psychoanalysis and Marxist political economy. In the first section of this chapter, JC looks at Foucault’s idea of discursive practices.    In the second, he looks at how Bowlby submits Freudian theory to empirical revision.

 

Freud’s model of human behavior correlates with the Standard Social Science Model. 

 

FOUCAULT and VERBAL BALLET:

 

411 – In the ‘archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault subordinates science to ‘discursive practices.’

 

413 – He switches to the word archaeology to genealogy to identify with the subjected knowledge, that is the mental contents of marginalized people like criminals and the mentally ill.  So genealogy gives voice to forbidden knowledge.

 

414 – He says knowledge and power imply one another.  The base and the superstructure merge into a single identity.  Power is the words and vice versa. 

 

415 – Foucault especially gives voice to sick people, as opposed to doctors.

 

416 – But it seems unlikely that many marginalized people would recognize themselves in the persona projected by Foucault: the cultural hero bravely bearing the banner of intellectual and ethical anarchism against the conspiratorial tyranny of the sane and law-abiding.

 

After repudiating science, Foucault must identify the organizing principle of his own rhetoric, he does so in Freud and Marx.  He says ‘there are no false statements in the work of these initiators.’

 

417 – In Foucault’s formulation, Frued is not speaking about the psyche, he is constructing the discursive practice of psychoanalysis; Marx is not speaking about the socioeconomic order, he is constructing the discursive practice of Marxism.

 

418 – Saying all is ‘constructed’ is ridiculous.  If all human beings exterminated themselves today, the sun would still come up as usual.  The order of the universe is rationally intelligible because the rational faculties of human beings have developed in adaptive conformity with the order of nature.

 

419 – Foucault sells that all is discourse.  Further more, in “The Discourse of Language” he attempts to get us to believe that our post-Gutenberg culture represses discourse.

 

420 – Well it is not that all discourse is repressed, it is only dangerous and uncontrollable things.

 

A profound logophobia, a fear of the mass of unspoken things that could be violent, discontinuous, querulous or disordered has been achieved.

 

When we reject nonsense, we also reject ‘the reality of discourse.’

 

421 – But Bowlby asks not only if motherhood is a discourse, but ‘what are the implications of saying motherhood is just a form of discourse?  Could we also call a tall woman short?   There are no linguistic systems that do not have the concept of mother.  Is antelope motherhood simply the result of our discourse? If we changed our discourse, would the antelope, say, lay eggs?  If we said that motherhood included eating the baby’s left hand would it continue?

 

Judith Butler works to expose the categories of sex, gender and desire as formations of power.

 

423 – But the biological functions of maternity among mammals antedate linguistic formulations. 

 

Biological characteristics themselves, exercise a powerful shaping force on all forms of cultural order. The higher forms of cultural imagination, myth and religion and literature, all register and regulate these systemic natural relations.

 

425 – Foucault says all current forms of intellectual activity are hopelessly compromised by the social power structure.  And in opposing ‘power’ he opposes all determinate order.

 

426 – The Nietzschean interpreter is the ‘truthful one’ because ‘he declares the interpretation that all truth has the function of concealing.”

 

Freud says the main purpose of literature is merely to indulge in wish fulfillment fantasies organized around two basic drives: sex and power.  For him there is no adaptive propensity for social behavior.  Society consists only in atomistic egoistic units competing for one another. 

 

In contrast, JC says, human nature is complex and includes social, intellectual, artistic and religious motives and the literary representation is also an end in itself.

 

“The central purpose of literature, I would argue, is to make sense of the world, to represent one’s own sense of things.  As Darwin argues, for most people that sense of things inclues a sympathetic apprehension of other people.”

 

Whereas Freud serves as the founding father of the idea that the existing order is repressive, Marx serves as the founding father of the idea that all short of utopia is repressive.

 

427 - Louis Althusser murdered his wife and then was officially judged insane.  In his writing, he says that he is the victim of an oppressive society. 

 

428 – Via this system, norms define themselves via distinguishing themselves from non-normative phenomena, pathology, crime, disease, insanity, absurdity, etc are identified as exclusionary and constituents of normal reality.

 

The system needs prisons to make us feel normal.

 

431 – He would like to ask Foucault followers if they go to the doctor when they are sick.

 

432 – Being slippery, Foucault links scientific knowledge with western colonialism. Both are forms of domination.  So exploitation and open pursuit of knowledge are the same thing!

 

434 – Foucault does not postulate a better order, that would be oppressive.  But, he did say a rough outline of a future society is supplied by the recent experiences with drugs, sex, communes, other forms of consciousness, and other forms of individuality” in 1971.

 

BOWLBY’S REVISION OF FREUD:

 

435 – Bowlby tries to preserve those parts of Freud that seem empirically sound. 

 

436 – The energy model is obviously an anachronism from Freud's industrial age.

But, formative experiences do impact adults. 

 

Bowlby sees this in Darwin himself – he thinks Darwin’s severe recurrent illnesses were due to repression of his mother dying when he was 8.  But Bowlby’s psychoanalytic statements are different from those made by – for example – “vulgar Freudian speculation that mars, for example, Park Honan’s biography of Matthew Arnold.”

 

437 – Bowlby ties separation trauma to attachment in Darwinian terms.  And this is different as Freud’s work is totally within the Standard Social Science Model – at least his later work.

 

439 – The oedipal conflict doesn’t work with modern theory as attachment behavior and sexual behavior are activated independently of each other.  He looks at 5 different affectional systems: infant-mother; mother-infant; age – mate; sexual and paternal.

 

441 – Darwin was quite sexist.  Women were underdeveloped men – halfway between men and children. Men have “higher powers of the imagination reason.”   Of course this is offensive to those who see all differences as social constructs.

 

Oedipus Rex locates morality and social concerns at a level below social concerns.  Biology dictates one must not kill their father and marry their mother.  We now know that sexual identity and attachment are actually in opposition, naturally.

 

442 – The play is not successful because it shows the real repressed desires, it is successful because it shows horror at breaking real natural laws.

 

Sometimes our social order does not go with dominant texts. The 18th century could not watch the lake of filial piety in King Lear so they rewrote it. 

 

444 – And humans have choices, they can violate the incest taboo. But it comes with a heavy cost to our total psychic economy.

 

Freud’s view of this reflects the view of man as asocial egoistic and appetitive, only repressed by social force. Dawkins, Trivers, and Alexander have the same bleak view of man.

 

445 – Our literary tradition is wiser.  It sees man as complex.  Sociality itself is an irreducible, positive sentiment.

 

STYLE AND MEN:

 

446 – In contrast to Freud, Bowlby submits himself to revision based on empirical updates based on advances in science.   Rather than just – ala Foucault – celebrating the mentally ill as rebels, Bowlby  aids their treatment. 

 

For many older folks, Foucault’s rebellion is glamorous;  JC says it ‘intellectually puerile, and its moral quality seems both self-righteous and mean-spirited.”

 

447 – Foucault, JC reminds us, was promiscuous in bathhouses after knowing he had AIDs.  His temper is malignant and philosophy is destructive.

 

448 – Foucault’s manner is haughty and arrogant, but it is not noble.  “Although he shares Foucault’s fixation on power, Nietzsche himself would probably regard Foucault, with contempt, as nothing better than a renegade slave.”

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

BIOLOGISTIC AFFILIATES OF POSTSTRUCTURALISM

Page 449

 

In opposition to Kuhn’s belief that science does not progress, but merely changes, JC aligns himself with Huxley. 

 

He will examine the thesis, put forward by Kuhn, Foucault and Fish that any given paradigm determines our thought so completely that it is not possible to consider rationally the claims of other competing paradigms.

 

LEWOTIN and THE HUMAN GAP IN THE NATURAL ORDER:

 

R. C. Lewiton’s main ideological motive appears to be his objection to “biological determinism.”

 

450 – He makes ridiculous statements wherein the organism flatly ‘produces’ the ‘conditions of his own existence.’

 

451 – By doing this he severs all biological causal connections with the larger moral, political or social issues.

 

452 – This ideology makes the world a place wherein we can choose all conditions.

 

RORTY ON ORGANISMIC NOISES:

 

Rorty seeks to set up a neo-pragmatist alternative to the opposition between materialism and idealism.  He defines his pragmatism as an “attempt to replace the notion of true beliefs as representations of ‘the nature of things’ and instead to think of them as successful roles for action.”

 

He both confirms and denies that the exercises a causal influence on thought.  He suspends biological causality, not by disrupting the unity of the natural order, but by equivocating.

 

453 -  Popper, like Lorenz, holds that some beliefs are more useful than others precisely because they are more accurate representations of reality.   This is scientific realism, which is animated by the regulative ideal of finding theories which correspond to the facts.  (herein fact designates an object that exists independent of our knowledge of it). 

 

Popper wrote to Derek Freeman that Many sociologists believe in consensus making truth.  That is truth by taking a vote of experts.

 

454 – Rorty’s account elimantes the constraining forces of nonhuman reality. 

 

KUHN ON DISCIPLINARY SPECIATION:

 

In his 1990 presidential address to the Philosophy of Science Association, Kuhn took an evolutionary perspective, wherein he compared the development of different branches of science to phyla. 

 

455 – His views of science have not essentially changed from those he propounded in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  

 

He says that lexical structures determine the structure of sciences’ taxonomies.

 

456 – He seeks to create a ‘post Darwinian Kantianism.’  But herein the lexicon supplies the preconditions of possible experience.

 

But while this is retrograde, Lorenz has post-Kantian Darwinism, because Kuhn’s views have been made obsolete by Darwinian theory. 

 

Kant saw that we organize the world via pre-existing mental structures.  But he did not see how these structures came from the world.   But at least Kant believed that science depended on reliable categories of thought. 

 

Kuhn believes that science can change without progressing, that it only represents a new interpretive community.

 

457- Kuhn does not say how change happens within the lexican development, given that Kant’s structures are apriori and don’t change.

 

Lorenz says our sense organs adapt to reality, that we experience as phenomenological space.  MA had the same view when he said our ideas reflect the best ideas available at the time of writing.  The ideas become obsolete, but they still correspond to the time.  Kuhn has not registered the changes science has wrought and is so still a ‘secod-rate’ intellectual.

 

And Kuhn’s idea that science becomes more and more divergent  is countered by Huxley even.  We grow closer and closer to unity. 

 

460 – “Progress in organic development is almost always achieved through the integration of a number of different and independent systems to form a unit of a higher order.”

 

461 – Kuhn’s method of operating through metaphors is fraught with opportunities for fallacious associations – metaphors are not logical hierarchies.  Chemistry does not mimic the structure of galaxies.  But galaxies are made of chemicals.

 

So, evolutionary adaption of humans over millions of years is not a literary work.

 

462 – “Literary theory need not merely provide structural parallels to evolutionary biology, but evolutionary biology can point us toward elementary principles in the organization of all human behavior – for example, the centrality of individual identity as an organizing principle of life, the centrality of reproduction as a motive among individuals, the specific character of male and female types within the human species, the phases of development in childhood, the evolved functions of family relationships, the evolutionary purposes and structure of language, cognition, and aesthetic perception, the functions of dreaming as a prototype of imaginative activity, the elementary principles of social organization including cooperation, relations of dominance and subordination, kin selection, reciprocal altruism, and sympathy, and the prevalence of deceit and self-delusion in human social affairs.”

 

RATION DEBATE OVER COMPETING PARADIGMS:

 

Popper has identified the myth of the framework as the “mistaken relativistic thesis that only those who accept the same basic framework can rationally communicate.” Even if this is a misappropriation, as Searle says, it is Kuhn’s fault for being so easy to misappropriate.

 

JC is proposing that it is possible to engage in a rational debate about foundational principles.

 

464 – Dworkin notes that “even the most dramatic changes in scientific paradigm are not instances of anything like replacing one entire structure of ideas with another. 

 

Popper says that Kuhn’s descriptions don’t really ‘fit any of the better known major [scientific] revolutions.

 

CONCLUSION

Page 466

 

By eliminating innate dispositions, cultural order, and individual identity PS cannot provide an adequate theory of literature. 

 

It empties out reality and gives us a thin and hectic play of self-reflexive linguistic functions.

 

467 – Furthermore they invert Pope’s idea saying whatever is, is wrong.

 

To insert ethical theories, as Pope does, into the cosmos is wrong.  Ethical theories have no place outside of the scope of human activity.  This means MA was mistaken in supposing that we can appeal to the will of God and right reason to sanction our cultural heritage.

 

Fortunately, MA was also mistaken that we need such a sanction. We identify the kind and quality of civilization we approve.  We can, using history and human nature, make strong reasonable conjectures about the standards of behavior and of rational judgment necessary to sustain the kind of civilization that seems best within the range of possibilities actually available to us.

 

Criticism can serve as the intelligent cultural conscience of its time. But the critic has no obligation to rationalize or challenge existing power structures; the first function is to, as MA said, to exercise the free play of mind on all subjects for its own sake.

 

468 – In his own mind, the main counterweight to prejudice is the appeal to truth.  Darwin acknowledged that Descent of Man was likely to cause distress in many readers.  So he offered consolatory sentiments, in that some animals seemed noble.  And, he said there was hope for progress in his model. Then finally,

 

“But we are not concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as our reason ascertains to discover it.”

 

469 – Darwinian lit position will be long lived. Why? Because it is dependent upon knowing other disciplines and it is constrained by them. And also because literary theory is the last refuge of mystical indeterminancy.