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Daring to Know

Daring to Know

Karl Pearson and the Romance of Science

(p.220) 10 Daring to Know
Dying to Know
George Levine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter outlines the literary and critical work of Karl Pearson. Pearson's Grammar of Science is a superb updating of the epistemology of dying to know. His epistemological journey places his work in the center of the great romantic and Victorian engagements with social, religious, and ethical crises. He revises the narrative of scientific epistemology by thrusting mind back into nature. In The Grammar of Science, he invokes natural selection to justify his view that knowledge and self-discipline are important to society. Pearson felt no incompatibility between the idea that science is morally interested and the idea that it is valid—the only valid form of knowledge. Pearson's use of a “dying” narrative to open up alternative modes of knowing indicates once again how the act of renunciation can also be an act of affirmation of the self.

Keywords:   Karl Pearson, Grammar of Science, scientific epistemology, dying to know, natural selection, science, knowledge, self-discipline, knowing, renunciation

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