A Cultural History of Causality
Science, Murder Novels, and Systems of Thought
By (author) Stephen Kern
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Cultural History of Causality by Stephen Kern
Book DescriptionThis pioneering work is the first to trace how our understanding of the causes of human behavior has changed radically over the course of European and American cultural history since 1830. Focusing on the act of murder, as documented vividly by more than a hundred novels including Crime and Punishment, An American Tragedy, The Trial, and Lolita, Stephen Kern devotes each chapter of A Cultural History of Causality to examining a specific causal factor or motive for murder--ancestry, childhood, language, sexuality, emotion, mind, society, and ideology. In addition to drawing on particular novels, each chapter considers the sciences (genetics, endocrinology, physiology, neuroscience) and systems of thought (psychoanalysis, linguistics, sociology, forensic psychiatry, and existential philosophy) most germane to each causal factor or motive. Kern identifies five shifts in thinking about causality, shifts toward increasing specificity, multiplicity, complexity, probability, and uncertainty. He argues that the more researchers learned about the causes of human behavior, the more they realized how much more there was to know and how little they knew about what they thought they knew. The book closes by considering the revolutionary impact of quantum theory, which, though it influenced novelists only marginally, shattered the model of causal understanding that had dominated Western thought since the seventeenth century. Others have addressed changing ideas about causality in specific areas, but no one has tackled a broad cultural history of this concept as does Stephen Kern in this engagingly written and lucidly argued book.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780691127682
(229mm x 152mm x 27mm)
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 17-Jul-2006
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Stephen Kern
Modernist Novel, Hardback (June 2011)
A comprehensive analysis of how formal innovations in the modernist novel (1900-40) captured the history of the period.
Eyes of Love, Hardback (April 1996)
A man in profile looks at a woman, who looks away from him and in the direction of the viewer. This compositional pattern recurs frequently in English and French paintings and novels of the second half of the 19th century. Stephen Kern identifies it in this book as a "propositional composition".
Culture of Love, Paperback (October 1994)» View all books by Stephen Kern
This text examines the portrayal of love in literature and art over a period of change from Jane Eyre (1847) to the mid-1930s, focusing on basic elements of love - embodiment, desire, language, sex and power - along with specific situations - waiting, proposing, jealousy, wedding and ending.
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Author Biography - Stephen Kern
Stephen Kern is Humanities Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio State University. He is the author of "The Culture of Time and Space, The Culture of Love", and "Eyes of Love".
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