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Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England
by Timothy M. Harrison
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-226-72512-3 | eISBN: 978-0-226-72526-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-72509-3
Library of Congress Classification PR438.C66H37 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 821.409353

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
In Coming To, Timothy M. Harrison uncovers the forgotten role of poetry in the history of the idea of consciousness. Drawing our attention to a sea change in the English seventeenth century, when, over the course of a half century, “conscience” made a sudden shift to “consciousness,” he traces a line that leads from the philosophy of René Descartes to the poetry of John Milton, from the prenatal memories of theologian Thomas Traherne to the unresolved perspective on natality, consciousness, and ethics in the philosophy of John Locke. Each of these figures responded to the first-person perspective by turning to the origins of how human thought began. Taken together, as Harrison shows, this unlikely group of thinkers sheds new light on the emergence of the concept of consciousness and the significance of human natality to central questions in the fields of literature, philosophy, and the history of science.
 

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