Caruth, Cathy
Empirical truths and critical fictions: Locke, Wordsworth, Kant, Freud
Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore, MD, US, 1991.

Abstract: (from the jacket)

In (this book), Caruth reinterprets questions at the heart of empiricism by treating J. Locke's text not simply as philosophical doctrine but also as a narrative in which "experience" plays an unexpected and uncanny role. Rediscovering traces and transformations of this narrative in W. Wordsworth, Kant, and Freud, Caruth argues that these authors must be read not only as rejecting or overcoming empirical doctrine but also as reencountering in their own narratives the complex and difficult relation between language and experience. (from the preface) The present study proposes to explore the enigma of experience and the significance of the recurring questions of empiricism in J. Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), W. Wordsworth's Prelude (1805), I. Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783) and "Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science" (1786), and S. Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents (1930)....

Taking as a starting point Locke's empirical philosophy as one influential source of the vocabulary of experience, this book sketches out the steps and the consequences of a reading that no longer takes this vocabulary at face value.... In reflecting thus implicitly on the connections between literature, philosophy, and psychoanalytic inquiry,... the present study also asks persistently what is the place, the function, the uniqueness of position of the literary text and of literary criticism. Literary theory puts into question traditional notions of period and genre.

Contents: Preface. Acknowledgments. The face of experience. Past recognition: Narrative origins in Wordsworth and Freud. The force of example: Kant's symbols. Signs of love. Conclusion: Mourning experience. Notes. Index.



Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles