The Madness of Knowledge: On Wisdom, Ignorance and Fantasies of Knowing

The Madness of Knowledge: On Wisdom, Ignorance and Fantasies of Knowing

by Steven Connor


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Many human beings have considered the powers and the limits of human knowledge, but few have wondered about the power that the idea of knowledge has over us. Steven Connor’s The Madness of Knowledge is the first book to investigate this emotional inner life of knowledge—the lusts, fantasies, dreams, and fears that the idea of knowing provokes. There are in-depth discussions of the imperious will to know, of Freud’s epistemophilia (or love of knowledge), and the curiously insistent links between madness, magical thinking, and the desire for knowledge. Connor also probes secrets and revelations, quarreling and the history of quizzes and “general knowledge,” charlatanry and pretension, both the violent disdain and the sanctification of the stupid, as well as the emotional investment in the spaces and places of knowledge, from the study to the library.

In an age of artificial intelligence, alternative facts, and mistrust of truth, The Madness of Knowledge offers an opulent, enlarging, and sometimes unnerving psychopathology of intellectual life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781789140729
Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date: 06/15/2019
Edition description: 1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 338,420
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Steven Connor is the Grace 2 Professor of English and director of the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of many books, including The Book of Skin, Fly, The Matter of Air: Science and the Art of the Ethereal, A Philosophy of Sport, and Beyond Words: Sobs, Hums, Stutters and Other Vocalizations, all also published by Reaktion Books.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

1 Will To Knowledge 46

2 Know Thyself 87

3 Secrecy 134

4 Quisition 171

5 Imposture 212

6 Unknowing 238

7 Epistemotopia 274

8 Epistemocracy 302

References 335

Further Reading 358

Index 362

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