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The influence of neo-Kantian structural realism on the modernist aesthetics of TS Eliot and James Joyce

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The aim of my thesis is to explore the connections between neo-Kantian structuralism in the philosophy of science in the 1920s and 20s and the pattern based aesthetics of literary modernism. At the moment I am working on James Joyce and T.S. Eliot, who (between them) had read popular works by Poincare, Russell, Whitehead, Eddington and James Jeans as well as numerous journal articles discussing contemporary trends in scientific metaphysics and epistemology.

In the workshop I am primarily interested in getting clear on the philosophy of science. In developing an account of the literary response to (what I am calling) ‘structuralist’ philosophy of science, I need to clarify what this philosophy is and how it is distinguished from other currents in contemporary philosophy in the 1910s, 20s and 30s. I am particularly concerned to get clear on the distinction between neo-Kantian ‘structuralism’ (and Whitehead’s holist metaphysics) on the one hand, and the sense-data school of empiricism. As I see it an important distinction is that the latter founds all knowledge upon immediate experience, whilst the former repudiates the notion of unmediated experience.

This talk is part of the HPS Philosophy Workshop series.

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