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Title:Blake's Buildings: Poetry and the Reshaping of Epistemology
Author(s):Stevens, Clint
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chai, Leon
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:This study situates Blake within the epistemological crisis that signaled the end of the Enlightenment. During this time, a number of thinkers in Germany and England realized that an adequate theory of representation needed to include reflexivity: awareness of how our thinking shapes the objects perceived. Reflexivity in turn led to the argument that reality doesn't stand ready-made waiting for its interpreter. Instead, reality is composed by a dialogic interchange between multiple perceivers and their objects. Thus one of my main arguments is that Blake contrasts two modes of conceiving thought. The first sees thought standing before an independent and ultimately inscrutable reality that it strives to interpret. The second, represented by the figure of Jerusalem, represents thought as an activity that transforms the shape of reality by its performance---sending forth arrows of intellect and love to enlighten and transform the dim chaos on all sides around. By developing this and other related ways of representing thought, I demonstrate an emerging pluralism in Blake and that the nemesis of Blake's project is not false belief but self-righteousness---the belief that we have (or can have) access to the one true form of reality, which legitimates our desire to destroy or silence other worldviews in the name of truth. Blake's ideal is humane discourse, not truth. In this way, Blake can be read as a forerunner of a number of pragmatic and pluralistic writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James and, more recently, Richard Rorty.
Issue Date:2009
Description:261 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3363095
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2009

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