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ERIC Number: ED310982
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Semiotic and Society in Nineteenth-Century America.
Hoopes, James
The intellectual changes of the 19th century were as dramatic as the economic changes of the Industrial Revolution. U.S. citizens at that time subscribed to the traditional belief that a spiritual self, grafted onto the body, was the source of life and thought. The later belief that human beings possessed complete, experiential knowledge of their own thoughts was a profound departure from the view that the mind possessed many different abilities. Faith in the immediate availability of self-knowledge supported the northern middle class emphasis on self-control as well as the cult of the self-made man. Despite the enormous confidence in self-perception in the early 19th century, some eventually found reason to doubt the "evidence of consciousness," and a part of the intellectual establishment became committed to the concept of unconscious thought. The work of social and cultural historians in our time has suffered by its confinement within the late 19th-century model of mind as divided between conscious and unconscious experience. A discussion of the works of Herbert Gutman, Paul Faler, Paul Johnson, and Mary Ryan is included. The dearth of synthesis in recent historical studies may be due to the difficulty of relating the wealth of discrete research data. But as long as history is conceived of as a local phenomenon experienced in the self, data synthesis will be difficult. By considering history not as resistance to experience but as interpretation of signs we may recognize that history itself is a synthetic process. (PPB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A