Jean Starobinski, one of Europe's foremost literary critics, examines the life that led Rousseau, who so passionately sought open, transparent communication with others, to accept and even foster obstacles that permitted him to withdraw into himself. First published in France in 1958, Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains Starobinski's most important achievement and, arguably, the most comprehensive book ever written on Rousseau. The text has been extensively revised for this edition and is published here along with seven essays on Rousseau that appeared between (...) 1962 and 1970. (shrink)
What do biologists mean when they say that to live is to react? Why was the termabreaction invented and later abandoned by the first generation of psychoanalysts? What is meant byreactionary politics? These are but a few of the questions the internationally renowned scholar JeanStarobinski answers in his conceptual history of the word pair, action and reaction.Not simply ahistory of ideas, Action and Reaction is also a semantic and philological history, a literaryhistory, a history of medicine, and a history of (...) the biological sciences. By concentrating on themoment when scientific language and ordinary language diverge, Starobinski uncovers a genealogy ofthe human and natural sciences through their usage of action and reaction as metaphors. Newton's law-- to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction -- becomes a point of departure for anexploration of the lexical and metaphorical traces left in its wake. Starobinski analyzes thescientific, literary, and political effects of the use of the terms action and reaction to describeand explain the material universe, the living body, historical events, and psychological behavior.In what he calls a "polyphonic score" -- a kind of mosaic -- he uses his subject to offer newinsights into the work of philosophers (Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant, Nietzsche, Jaspers), scientists(Newton, Bichat, Bernard, Bernheim, Freud), and writers (Diderot, Constant, Balzac, Poe, Valry).Ultimately, the book explores the power and danger of metaphorical language and questions theconvergence and collapse of scientific and moral explanations of the universe. (shrink)
En historien des mots, des idées et des littératures, J. Starobinski met en lumière les grands épisodes de la vie du couple action/réaction, depuis le rôle que lui attribua la scolastique jusqu'aux interrogations qui entourent aujourd'hui la notion de progrès, sans laquelle la réaction politique ne peut être pensée.
Die schriftstellerische Praxis Paul Valérys war äußerst reflektiert. Was verbindet Wörter und Gedanken? Was heißt Schreiben? Wo liegen die Grenzen des Darstellbaren? Wo enden die Zuständigkeiten des Bewußtseins? Wo beginnt das Schweigen? Der Aufsatz zeigt, wie der Selbstbeobachter Valéry mit mikrologischer Beharrlichkeit immer neue Dimensionen geistiger Existenz erschloß.
It is doubtless appropriate to read The Interpretation of Dreams according to the image of the journey which Sigmund Freud describes in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess:The whole thing is planned on the model of an imaginary walk. First comes the dark wood of the authorities , where there is no clear view and it is easy to go astray. Then there is a cavernous defile through which I lead my readers—my specimen dream with its peculiarities, its details, its indiscretions (...) and its bad jokes—and then, all at once, the high ground and the open prospect and the question: “Which way do you want to go?”1This walk has nothing of the nonchalant about it. Rather, it is strewn with tests and trials, as is usually the case in the “myth of the hero” or of the “conquistador,” which we know played a major role in Freud’s thought and in that of his disciples. The progress, in epic poetry, moves toward a discovery, the founding of a city, by means of difficult stages and combats. Every “discourse” capable of attaining a goal distant from its prolegomena finds its appropriate metaphor in the hero’s progress, or in the voyage of initiation. Discursivity then becomes the intellectual equivalent of the epic’s trajectory. At the time of its publication, Freud found his book insufficiently probing, and imperfect in its discursivity. He criticized himself for having failed to link properly his arguments . Doubt was momentarily cast on the achievement of the main goal…. But such severity was not to persist.But one can also read the work by discerning its framing devices. Several authors mentioned in the first chapter reappear at the work’s conclusion. Such a return is far from fortuitous; it is the result of an extremely well-calculated strategy. Another framing system which has been noticed by many readers is the one, shortly before the end of the book, which returns to a line from Virgil that Freud had placed as an epigraph on the title page: Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo. This line, because of its repetition at two crucial points in the book, traces its message in the form of an emblem. When it breaks in, it makes explicit that the dream mechanism is the return of the repressed:In waking life the suppressed material in the mind is prevented from finding expression and is cut off from internal perception owing to the fact that the contradictions present in it are eliminated—one side being disposed of in favor of the other; but during the night, under the sway of an impetus towards the construction of compromises, this suppressed material finds methods and means of forcing its way into consciousness.Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.2 1. Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 6 Aug. 1899, Freud, The Origins of Psychoanalysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, Drafts and Notes, 1887-1902, ed. Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, and Ernst Kris, trans. James Strachey , p. 290.2. Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, ed. and trans. Strachey , p. 647; my emphasis. The Latin is translated in n. 1 on that page of Freud’s text: “If I cannot bend the High Powers, I will move the Infernal Regions.” All further references to this work, abbreviated I, will be included in the text. Another framing device is created by the theme of the prophetic dream, discussed at the outset of the first chapters and taken up again, with the ambivalence of denial and concession, in the final paragraph of the book. Jean Starobinski, professor emeritus at the University of Geneva, has devoted studies to Montaigne, Diderot, Rousseau, Saussure, and modern French poets. As an M.D., he is familiar with psychoanalysis and participates in the editorial board of La Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse . Some of his recent research deals with the history of melancholia; his most recent books are Montaigne in Motion and Rousseau . He was awarded the Balzan Prize in 1984. (shrink)