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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

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Title: Action and Reaction
Subtitle: The Life and Adventures of a Couple
Written By: Jean Starobinski
Translated By: Sophie Hawkes
Series Title: Zone Books

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.

Publication Year: 2003
Publisher: MIT Press
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Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Ling & Literature
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 189095120X
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 450
Prices: $34