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The Cartesian Hardy

The Cartesian Hardy

I Think, Therefore I'm Doomed

(p.200) 9 The Cartesian Hardy
Dying to Know
George Levine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter reviews Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. Hardy was one of those who, as they engaged with the narrative of scientific epistemology, opened themselves to the inhuman coldness of material reality. Jude the Obscure might be taken as a final test among fictions of the dying-to-know model, an antiheroic inversion of it. It participates in key developments in late-century England in which the philosophy of empiricism, the dualism of mind and body, and the radical bleakness of the news that science was disseminating joined together in a new celebration of art. Moreover, it dramatizes the material impossibility and brutal self-destructiveness of that radical self-denial that marks Rene Descartes' progress through the Meditations and that was for the nineteenth century the indispensable condition of scientific knowledge.

Keywords:   Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, scientific epistemology, dying-to-know model, England, empiricism, dualism, Rene Descartes, Meditations, scientific knowledge

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