LINGUIST List 14.1582

Wed Jun 4 2003

Books: Semantics: Starobinski, Hawkes (translator)

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  1. dgw, Action and Reaction: Starobinski, Hawkes (trans)

Message 1: Action and Reaction: Starobinski, Hawkes (trans)

Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 17:18:46 +0000
From: dgw <>
Subject: Action and Reaction: Starobinski, Hawkes (trans)

Title: Action and Reaction
Subtitle: The Life and Adventures of a Couple
Series Title: Zone Books
Publication Year: 2003
Publisher: MIT Press		 
Book URL:
Author: Jean Starobinski, University of Geneva 
Translator: Sophie Hawkes				

Hardback: ISBN: 189095120X, Pages: 450, Price: $34

What do biologists mean when they say that to live is to react? Why
was the term abreaction invented and later abandoned by the first
generation of psychoanalysts? What is meant by reactionary politics?
These are but a few of the questions the internationally renowned
scholar Jean Starobinski answers in his conceptual history of the word
pair, action and reaction.

Not simply a history of ideas, Action and Reaction, is also a semantic
and philological history, a literary history, a history of medicine,
and a history of the biological sciences. By concentrating on the
moment when scientific language and ordinary language diverge,
Starobinski uncovers a genealogy of the 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 an exploration of the lexical and
metaphorical traces left in its wake. Starobinski analyzes the
scientific, literary, and political effects of the use of the terms
action and reaction to describe and 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 new insights 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 the convergence and collapse of
scientific and moral explanations of the universe.

Lingfield(s): Ling & Literature
	 Historical Linguistics

Written In: English (Language Code: ENG)

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