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Title: Action and Reaction
Subtitle: The Life and Adventures of a Couple
Written By: Jean Starobinski
Translated By: Sophie Hawkes
URL: http://mitpress.mit.edu/promotions/books/FL2003189095120X
Series Title: Zone Books
Description:

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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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Semantics
Ling & Literature
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Versions:
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 189095120X
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 450
Prices: $34