Narrative, Religion and Science: Fundamentalism versus Irony, 1700-1999 / Edition 1

Narrative, Religion and Science: Fundamentalism versus Irony, 1700-1999 / Edition 1

by Stephen Prickett
     
 

ISBN-10: 0521009839

ISBN-13: 9780521009836

Pub. Date: 03/28/2002

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

An increasing number of contemporary scientists, philosophers and theologians downplay their professional authority and describe their work as simply 'telling stories about the world'. If this is so, Stephen Prickett argues, literary criticism can (and should) be applied to all these fields.

Such new-found modesty is not necessarily post-modernist scepticism

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Overview

An increasing number of contemporary scientists, philosophers and theologians downplay their professional authority and describe their work as simply 'telling stories about the world'. If this is so, Stephen Prickett argues, literary criticism can (and should) be applied to all these fields.

Such new-found modesty is not necessarily post-modernist scepticism towards all grand narratives, but it often conceals a widespread confusion and naivety about what 'telling stories', 'description' or 'narrative' actually involve. While postmodernists define 'narrative' in opposition to the experimental 'knowledge' of science (Lyotard), some scientists insist that science is itself story-telling (Gould); certain philosophers and theologians even see all knowledge simply as stories created by language (Rorty; Cupitt). Yet story-telling is neither innocent nor empty-handed. Register, rhetoric and imagery all manipulate in their own ways; above all, irony emerges as the natural mode of our modern fragmented culture. Prickett argues that since the eighteenth century there have been only two possible ways of understanding the world: the fundamentalist, and the ironic.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521009836
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
290
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.67(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsvii
Introduction: Arthur Dent, Screwtape and the mysteries of story-telling1
1Postmodernism, grand narratives and just-so stories14
Postmodernism and grand narratives14
Just-so stories23
Narrative and irony32
Language, culture and reality46
2Newton and Kissinger: Science as irony?54
Said, Kissinger and Newton54
Revolutions and paradigms62
Models of reality71
Ambiguity and irony81
3Learning to say 'I': Literature and subjectivity94
Interior and exterior worlds94
The idea of literature107
The ideal of the fragment114
Two kinds of truth?121
4Reconstructing religion: Fragmentation, typology and symbolism128
From religion to religions128
Religions of nature and of the heart135
Millenarian fragments and organic wholes141
The aesthetics of irony: Keble and Rossetti148
5The ache in the missing limb: Language, truth and presence157
Coleridge: The language of the Bible157
Newman: The physiognomy of development170
Polanyi: The origins of meaning179
Steiner, Derrida and Hart: Presence and absence189
6Twentieth-century fundamentalisms: Theology, truth and irony195
Rorty: Language and reality195
Postmodernism and poetic language: Religion as aesthetics207
Logos and logothete: Reading reality217
7Science and religion: Language, metaphor and consilience225
Etching with universal acid225
Language as change233
A rebirth of images239
The fabric of the universe247
Concluding conversational postscrip: The tomb of Napoleon256
Bibliography264
Index274

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