The Ethics of Indeterminacy in the Novels of William Gaddis

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9780813012513: The Ethics of Indeterminacy in the Novels of William Gaddis
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"I wouldn't recommend just any book on Gaddis simply because it dealt with my favorite author. . . .  But Comnes's book is a truly valuable study that raises Gaddis criticism to a new level of critical sophistication."--Steven Moore, senior editor, Dalkey Archive Press


William Gaddis is one of the most significant postwar American novelists.  His three large and experimental works--The Recognitions, J R (which won the National Book Award in 1975), and Carpenter's Gothic--sell to a reverential underground.  In this first discussion of the ethical dimension of Gaddis's novels, Gregory Comnes maintains that Gaddis writes "epistomological" novels, narratives whose form provides readers with the means to understand how a postmodern ethics is possible. 
 To establish this position Comnes argues three points.  The first is that ethical concepts derive from fundamental epistemological principles--that "oughts" are legitimated by what passes for what "is."  The second is that Gaddis's novels employ the epistemological concepts, grounded in quantum science, as principles of composition and form.  From this interpretation, the novels dramatize the truth described by contemporary science.  Readers of Gaddis come to realize what Bohr and Heisenberg understood, Comnes argues: that life is not linear, aimed at one fixed point and seeking consummation there.
 He concludes that Gaddis wants readers to understand the issue of ethics in a way that one of his characters describes as "Agape agape." Within the constraints of an indeterminate world, love itself can serve as the basis of meaning and value.  The three novels, each postmodern and ethical, correlate the worlds of science, religion, art, and economics to show that ethical choice (not conformity and passivity) is possible, even when the absolute is replaced with the probable as the basis for judgment.
 
Gregory Comnes is professor of philosophy at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.  He is the author of other works on William Gaddis published in literary journals.

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William Gaddis is one of the most significant postwar American novelists. His three large and experimental works - The Recognitions, J R (which won the National Book Award in 1975), and Carpenter's Gothic - sell to a reverential underground. In this first discussion of the ethical dimension of Gaddis's novels, Gregory Comnes maintains that Gaddis writes "epistemological" novels, narratives whose form provides readers with the means to understand how a postmodern ethics is possible. To establish this position Comnes argues three points. The first is that ethical concepts derive from fundamental epistemological principles - that "oughts" are legitimated by what passes for what "is". The second is that Gaddis's novels employ the epistemological concepts, grounded in quantum science, as principles of composition and form. From this interpretation, the novels dramatize the truth described by contemporary science. Readers of Gaddis come to realize what Bohr and Heisenberg understood, Comnes argues: that life is not linear, aimed at one fixed point and seeking consummation there. He concludes that Gaddis wants readers to understand the issue of ethics in a way that one of his characters describes as "Agape agape". Within the constraints of an indeterminate world, love itself can serve as the basis of meaning and value. The three novels, each postmodern and ethical, correlate the worlds of science, religion, art, and economics to show that ethical choice (not conformity and passivity) is possible, even when the absolute is replaced with the probable as the basis for judgment.

About the Author:

Gregory Comnes is professor of philosophy at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

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Book Description University Press of Florida, United States, 1994. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English. Brand new Book. William Gaddis is one of the most significant postwar American novelists. His three large and experimental works - The Recognitions, J R (which won the National Book Award in 1975), and Carpenter's Gothic - sell to a reverential underground. In this first discussion of the ethical dimension of Gaddis's novels, Gregory Comnes maintains that Gaddis writes "epistemological" novels, narratives whose form provides readers with the means to understand how a postmodern ethics is possible. To establish this position Comnes argues three points. The first is that ethical concepts derive from fundamental epistemological principles - that "oughts" are legitimated by what passes for what "is." The second is that Gaddis's novels employ the epistemological concepts, grounded in quantum science, as principles of composition and form. From this interpretation, the novels dramatize the truth described by contemporary science. Readers of Gaddis come to realize what Bohr and Heisenberg understood, Comnes argues: that life is not linear, aimed at one fixed point and seeking consummation there. He concludes that Gaddis wants readers to understand the issue of ethics in a way that one of his characters describes as "Agape agape." Within the constraints of an indeterminate world, love itself can serve as the basis of meaning and value. The three novels, each postmodern and ethical, correlate the worlds of science, religion, art, and economics to show that ethical choice (not conformity and passivity) is possible, even when the absolute is replaced with the probable as the basis for judgment. Seller Inventory # AAN9780813012513

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Book Description University Press of Florida, United States, 1994. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. William Gaddis is one of the most significant postwar American novelists. His three large and experimental works - The Recognitions, J R (which won the National Book Award in 1975), and Carpenter s Gothic - sell to a reverential underground. In this first discussion of the ethical dimension of Gaddis s novels, Gregory Comnes maintains that Gaddis writes epistemological novels, narratives whose form provides readers with the means to understand how a postmodern ethics is possible. To establish this position Comnes argues three points. The first is that ethical concepts derive from fundamental epistemological principles - that oughts are legitimated by what passes for what is. The second is that Gaddis s novels employ the epistemological concepts, grounded in quantum science, as principles of composition and form. From this interpretation, the novels dramatize the truth described by contemporary science. Readers of Gaddis come to realize what Bohr and Heisenberg understood, Comnes argues: that life is not linear, aimed at one fixed point and seeking consummation there. He concludes that Gaddis wants readers to understand the issue of ethics in a way that one of his characters describes as Agape agape. Within the constraints of an indeterminate world, love itself can serve as the basis of meaning and value. The three novels, each postmodern and ethical, correlate the worlds of science, religion, art, and economics to show that ethical choice (not conformity and passivity) is possible, even when the absolute is replaced with the probable as the basis for judgment. Seller Inventory # AAN9780813012513

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