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Artful ExperimentsWays of Knowing in Victorian Literature and Science$
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Philipp Erchinger

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474438957

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438957.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 22 August 2019

Steps Towards an Ecology of Experience: Empiricism, Pragmatism and George Eliot’s The Spanish Gypsy

Steps Towards an Ecology of Experience: Empiricism, Pragmatism and George Eliot’s The Spanish Gypsy

Chapter:
(p.107) Chapter 4 Steps Towards an Ecology of Experience: Empiricism, Pragmatism and George Eliot’s The Spanish Gypsy
Source:
Artful Experiments
Author(s):

Philipp Erchinger

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438957.003.0005

Chapter 4 makes the case that the work of Eliot and Lewes exemplifies a pragmatist understanding of knowledge that is centred on the idea of “experience as experiment” (Jay) or “experience as a craft” (Sennett). Distinguishing between two main senses of ‘experience’, practical wisdom and intense awareness, the chapter traces the manifold implications of that term through G.H. Lewes’s five volume fragment Problems of Life and Mind, Samuel Butler’s Life and Habit and George Eliot’s The Spanish Gypsy. Moreover, close readings of these texts are interwoven with references to the philosophical tradition of American Pragmatism, as represented by the work of William James and John Dewey. Briefly, my main argument is that these Pragmatist writers shared with their Victorian predecessors an ecological view of experience as an incipient pattern, an advancing middle between the past and the future as well as inside and outside, or subject and object, that essentially lacks anything like a firm ground.

Keywords:   experience, Pragmatism, Radical Empiricism, William James, G.H. Lewes, George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy, organic memory, mind and life, ecology

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