Dissertation Abstract




Probing the Limits of Mind and Knowledge:

Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and

the Short Stories of Machado De Assis and Ambrose Bierce


Jose dos Santos


Degree:          Ph.D.

Year:             2001

Pages:            00214

Institution:     Purdue University; 0183

Advisor:          Floyd Merrell


Source:           DAI, 63, no. 12A (2001): p. 4302

Standard No:      ISBN:             0-493-95936-X


The purpose of this dissertation was to study a selected number of short stories by Machado de Assis and Ambrose Bierce as critiques of the rational paradigms much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century both in Brazil and the United States. The study focused on questions involving the nature of mind, knowledge, and reality. The theoretical framework utilized to discuss these issues came from the pragmatist theories of William James and semiotics of Charles S. Peirce. The argument was that both Machado and Bierce challenged traditional notions of mind as an agent that simply copies reality. As the analysis of the texts demonstrates, they saw mind as an embodied organism operating in conjunction with the body and the whole range of human emotions that accompany it. Because mind and body work together, a new concept of knowledge emerges; namely, knowledge is the product of a semiotic relation involving objects, representamens, and interpretants. Moreover, knowledge is always the product of a selective process. That is, personal interests, inclinations, and preferences determine what becomes part of the individual's reality. In sum, the short stories discussed reject the notion of mind as mirror of reality. They portray, instead, subject-object relations as a dynamic enterprise where individuals shape and are at the same time shaped the environment they interact with. Knowledge is less the discovery of something already made than the creation of different worlds aiming to satisfy the needs of human beings.






Accession No:     AAI3075657

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations