Against Nature
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"Against Nature" Quotes

By Joris-Karl Huysmans

fiction | 88 pages | Published in 2019

A pithy work of philosophical anthropology that explores why humans find moral orders in natural orders. Why have human beings, in many different cultures and epochs, looked to nature as a source of norms for human behavior? From ancient India and ancient Greece, medieval France and Enlightenment America, up to the latest controversies over gay marriage and cloning, natural orders have been enlisted to illustrate and buttress moral orders. Revolutionaries and reactionaries alike have appealed to nature to shore up their causes. No amount of philosophical argument or political critique deters the persistent and pervasive temptation to conflate the “is” of natural orders with the “ought” of moral orders. In this short, pithy work of philosophical anthropology, Lorraine Daston asks why we continually seek moral orders in natural orders, despite so much good counsel to the contrary. She outlines three specific forms of natural order in the Western philosophical tradition—specific natures, local natures, and universal natural laws—and describes how each of these three natural orders has been used to define and oppose a distinctive form of the unnatural. She argues that each of these forms of the unnatural triggers equally distinctive emotions: horror, terror, and wonder. Daston proposes that human reason practiced in human bodies should command the attention of philosophers, who have traditionally yearned for a transcendent reason, valid for all species, all epochs, even all planets.

ISBN_13:9780262537339
ISBN_10:0262537338

Quotes

The artist excels in nothing but himself.

Lorraine Daston

I have cultivated my hysteria with joy and terror.

Lorraine Daston

It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will leave behind me as many images as possible; then, suddenly, I will shut myself up like a chrysalis.

Lorraine Daston

He mastered the art of suspending the fitness of things, of floating isolated details in a bath of moral gum.

Lorraine Daston

He finds inspiration only in disaster, in order to force catastrophe to be creative in communicating emotion.

Lorraine Daston

He was tormented by the desire to inflict cruel and original psychological suffering upon himself.

Lorraine Daston

In literature, as in everything, there is only one meaning, but this meaning can take on multiple forms.

Lorraine Daston

His personality was ceaselessly directing the exact opposite of its intentions, performing actions of which his conscious being disapproved.

Lorraine Daston

He was constantly under illusions as to the arts; he had no ear for criticism, no eye for the strengths and weaknesses of any style whatsoever.

Lorraine Daston

His mind was obstinate, deformed by pedantry, greedy for novelty, its certainties persisting in the face of any evidence to the contrary.

Lorraine Daston