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Gaskell’s Lost Objects

Gaskell’s Lost Objects

Chapter:
(p.102) 3 Gaskell’s Lost Objects
Source:
Object Lessons
Author(s):
Jami Bartlett
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226369792.003.0004

Like chapter 2, chapter 3 on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Cranford is attentive to the referential problem of lost objects, but rather than tracking them, it settles into what philosopher Gareth Evans calls the fundamental ground of difference between objects present and absent by mapping them onto a sequence of propositions that can themselves be projectible. Through an analysis of Evans’s Generality Constraint, one methodology by which semantic identification trumps demonstrative identification in the novel, we can make sense of the claim of philosophers of language that the relationships between objects established by propositional logic need not exclude our understanding of experiences that we cannot remember, conceptualize, imagine, or recreate. In Gaskell’s novel, lost objects are not devices that provide us with a chance to grasp our own relationship to them; rather, they present us with a sequence of referential associations that we can only interpret by accounting for the conditions that would have to obtain in order for us to authorize them.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford, absent objects, semantic identifcation, demonstrative identification, propositional logic, referential associations, authority

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