Download A Cultural History of Causality: Science, Murder Novels, and by Stephen Kern PDF

By Stephen Kern

This pioneering paintings is the 1st to track how our realizing of the motives of human habit has replaced extensively over the process ecu and American cultural heritage considering the fact that 1830. targeting the act of homicide, as documented vividly via greater than 100 novels together with Crime and Punishment, An American Tragedy, The Trial, and Lolita, Stephen Kern devotes every one bankruptcy of A Cultural heritage of Causality to analyzing a particular causal issue or reason for murder--ancestry, adolescence, language, sexuality, emotion, brain, society, and beliefs. as well as drawing on specific novels, every one bankruptcy considers the sciences (genetics, endocrinology, body structure, neuroscience) and structures of suggestion (psychoanalysis, linguistics, sociology, forensic psychiatry, and existential philosophy) so much germane to every causal issue or motive.

Kern identifies 5 shifts in pondering causality, shifts towards expanding specificity, multiplicity, complexity, chance, and uncertainty. He argues that the extra researchers realized in regards to the factors of human habit, the extra they learned how even more there has been to understand and the way little they knew approximately what they inspiration they knew. The ebook closes through contemplating the progressive impression of quantum concept, which, even though it stimulated novelists purely marginally, shattered the version of causal figuring out that had ruled Western notion because the 17th century.

Others have addressed altering principles approximately causality in particular components, yet nobody has tackled a huge cultural heritage of this idea as does Stephen Kern during this engagingly written and lucidly argued book.

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Extra resources for A Cultural History of Causality: Science, Murder Novels, and Systems of Thought

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The phenomenon of emergent properties reveals a central methodological problem in this history: the impossibility of achieving a 24 • Introduction fully integrated history of causal analysis that would include subatomic, atomic, molecular, biological, individual psychological, and collective social causation. That problem is further complicated by the different sorts of phenomena treated by novelists, philosophers, natural scientists, and social scientists. While they are all concerned with causality, they approach it in radically different ways with different purposes and different criteria for precision, evidence, and argumentation.

With such a theory, officials could treat born criminals as a race apart, their blood tainted by sins committed in the distant past. Victorian novels are rife with causal accounts of murderers based on remote ancestry backed by the theories of Lamarck, Hering, Darwin, or Lombroso. ” Throughout English history “the Chuzzlewits were actively connected with diverse slaughterous conspiracies,” and the arch-traitor Guy Fawkes himself might have been “a scion of this remarkable stock” (51–52). In The House of Seven Gables (1851), Nathaniel Hawthorne invoked a two-century-old curse of Matthew Maule that God would give his unjust persecutor, Colonel Pyncheon, blood to drink.

The phenomenon of emergent properties reveals a central methodological problem in this history: the impossibility of achieving a 24 • Introduction fully integrated history of causal analysis that would include subatomic, atomic, molecular, biological, individual psychological, and collective social causation. That problem is further complicated by the different sorts of phenomena treated by novelists, philosophers, natural scientists, and social scientists. While they are all concerned with causality, they approach it in radically different ways with different purposes and different criteria for precision, evidence, and argumentation.

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