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


Product Details

Reaktion Books
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.3 inches | 1.65 pounds
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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.


"Pinning down this wide-ranging book is difficult, but 'psycho-literary history of ideas about knowledge' may not be too far off. . . . Connor interrogates fictional, philosophical, religious, historical, and other texts to examine the relationships they suggest between knowledge, or the search thereof, and passion, madness, fantasy, and power. Many long passages connect myriad sources and incidents through their common use of a single word or concept. This sometimes looks like the exploratory wordplay that Continental philosophers often use in lieu of an argument or a thesis, but there is more substance here than this comparison may suggest, and the work offers some useful synthetic insights. Though those looking for an analytical, conceptually based central argument may be frustrated, Connor is relatively clear in defining his terms, framing and organizing his remarks, and establishing connections between old and new points--even if these still at times seem to form a chain of individually connected thoughts rather than a web with a definite center. Recommended."-- "Choice"