The Rhetoric of Empiricism: Language and Perception from Locke to I.A. Richards
Empiricism favors the visual over the verbal, the literal over the rhetorical, the static over the temporal: This is the standard charge leveled by literary theorists and writers. It is, Jules David Law demonstrates, remarkably misguided. His ambitious and challenging book explores the interplay of language and visual perception at the heart of empiricism. A re-evaluation of the British empiricist tradition from the perspective of contemporary literary theory, it also offers a sustained challenge to theory itself. In failing to grasp the issues confronting early empiricist writers or to be fully aware of their rhetorical strategies, Law says, theory has defined itself needlessly in opposition to empiricism.
In Law's view, the empiricist tradition extends beyond strictly philosophical texts. Beginning with the classical empiricism of Locke, he traces an intellectual path through the works of thinkers such as Berkeley, Burke, Hazlitt, Ruskin, and I. A. Richards, resituating several "romantic" writers along the way. His analyses of these texts reveal the persistent presence of certain metaphors - surface, depth, and reflection - which are central not only to philosophy, but to art criticism and literary criticism as well. Inseparable from accounts of visual experience and yet preoccupied with language at the same time, empiricism appears here in surprisingly complex relation to literary theory.
An illuminating look at the language of reflection and perception in its empirical and critical guises, The Rhetoric of Empiricism will interest readers in the fields of literary history and theory, philosophy, aesthetics, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century studies.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
The Technique of Surface
abstract according activity aesthetic analogy appear argues argument association attention beautiful becomes begins Berkeley Berkeley's blind body Burke Burke's chapter character characterization claims clear colour common concept concerning consider critical deep depth describes discourse discussion distinction distinguish effects emphasis empiricism empiricist entirely Essay existence experience explain fact feeling figure give Hazlitt height human ideas images imagination immediate impressions imprinted interest ironic judgment kind knowledge language later light linguistic literal literary Locke Locke's material meaning mental metaphor mind nature notice notion objects observation operations optical original pain painting paradox particular passage perception philosophical precisely Press principle qualities question reading reason reference reflection relation relationship rhetorical Ruskin seems sensations sense sensory shift sight signifiers signs simply sublime suggests surface tension theory things thought tion tradition Treatise trope turn understanding University verbal visual writes