By Cathy Caruth
Within the triumphing account of English empiricism, Locke conceived of self-understanding as a question of mere statement, sure heavily to the legislation of actual notion. English Romantic poets and German serious philosophers challenged Locke's belief, arguing that it did not account competently for the facility of idea to show upon itself -- to detach itself from the legislation of the actual global. Cathy Caruth reinterprets questions on the middle of empiricism via treating Locke's textual content no longer easily as philosophical doctrine but in addition as a story within which "experience" performs an unforeseen and uncanny position. Rediscovering lines and ameliorations of this narrative in Wordsworth, Kant, and Freud, Caruth argues that those authors mustn't ever be learn merely as rejecting or overcoming empirical doctrine but in addition as reencountering of their personal narratives the advanced and tough relation among language and experience.Beginning her inquiry with the instant of empirical self-reflection in Locke's Essay bearing on Human knowing -- while a mad mom mourns her lifeless baby -- Caruth asks what it implies that empiricism represents itself as an act of mourning and explores why scenes of mourning reappear in later texts corresponding to Wordsworth's Prelude, Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of normal technology and Prolegomena to Any destiny Metaphysics, and Freud's Civilization. From those readings Caruth lines a habitual narrative of radical loss and the continuous displacement of the thing or the agent of loss. In Locke it's the mom who mourns her useless baby, whereas in Wordsworth it's the baby who mourns the useless mom. In Kant the daddy murders the son, whereas in Freud the sons homicide the father.As she strains this trend, Caruth indicates that the conceptual claims of every textual content to maneuver past empiricism are implicit claims to maneuver past reference. but the narrative of dying in each one textual content, she argues, leaves a referential residue that can not be reclaimed by means of empirical or conceptual good judgment. Caruth hence finds, in every one of those authors, a rigidity among the abstraction of a conceptual language free of reference and the compelling referential resistance of specific tales to abstraction.
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Additional info for Empirical Truths and Critical Fictions: Locke, Wordsworth, Kant, Freud
It hinders Men from seeing and examining. When two things in themselves disjoin'd, appear to the sight constantly united; if the Eye sees these things rivetted which are loose, where will you begin to rectify the mistakes that follow in two Ideas, that they have been accustom'd so to join in their Minds, as to substitute one for the other, and, as I am apt to think, often without perceiving it themselves? 18) Here association is explicitly a matter of self-blindness: the em- THE FACE OF E X P E R I E N C E / 25 phasis of this passage, as of the other, is not so much on the falsity of the connections that are made as on the relation of reason to this falsity.
By remembering death as the property of her child, the mother gives her child to death as its property; she gives it a form, a means of appearing. The EMPIRICAL TRUTHS AND CRITICAL FICTIONS / 38 mother, wishing to fight death with her memory, unknowingly adorns death with the face of her child. 39 The real danger of the mother's behavior, then, is not falsehood, but the reversal by which thought turns its objects into figures. But the figure in the mother's remembering is not the "associative" figuration based on the substitution of one idea or term for another by means of an analogy grounded in perception.
The nature of this gesture— the representation of self-knowledge as a history of its evolving discourses—is not entirely clear, but it is nevertheless entirely appropriate, since it is precisely this configuration of selfknowledge, history, and discourse which many "Romantic" texts explore. By reading these texts in a search for our past, therefore, we can learn more about this very attempt to recognize ourselves in them. A similar gesture, although apparently inadvertent, is made by Jeffrey Mehlman in translating a passage from Freud's Three Essays on Sexuality.