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Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology

Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology Sympathetic Imagery in Theory and Physiology context of nineteenth-century mesmerism. Oliver Sacks ([1992] 1999, 3–6) goes so far as to argue that contemporary explanations of such neurologically complex conditions as migraine and epilepsy owe a great deal to, and are often indistinguishable from, eighteenth-century sympathetic explanations, although the word no longer appears. Perhaps there is among economists a similar felt need to find a cognate term, and this drives them periodically to resuscitate sympathy. Be that as it may, tracing the various meanings attached to the term provides a window into an era when ideas were not constrained by disciplinary boundaries. Indeed, there was no clear distinction between medicine and what was to become social theory. Ideas developed in medicine enriched social discourse, and poetry engaged philosophical debate. Knowledge, developing more quickly than the vocabulary in which new discoveries could be expressed, borrowed terms still carrying the freight of alchemy and astrology. Scholars adapted existing words to new uses by playing upon the metaphorical implications of existing terms.1 The use of the same word for similar ideas in analyses of the human body and the social body is more than an analogy. There is a logical continuity between http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

Evocations of Sympathy: Sympathetic Imagery in Eighteenth-Century Social Theory and Physiology

History of Political Economy , Volume 35 (Suppl 1) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-35-Suppl_1-282
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Sympathetic Imagery in Theory and Physiology context of nineteenth-century mesmerism. Oliver Sacks ([1992] 1999, 3–6) goes so far as to argue that contemporary explanations of such neurologically complex conditions as migraine and epilepsy owe a great deal to, and are often indistinguishable from, eighteenth-century sympathetic explanations, although the word no longer appears. Perhaps there is among economists a similar felt need to find a cognate term, and this drives them periodically to resuscitate sympathy. Be that as it may, tracing the various meanings attached to the term provides a window into an era when ideas were not constrained by disciplinary boundaries. Indeed, there was no clear distinction between medicine and what was to become social theory. Ideas developed in medicine enriched social discourse, and poetry engaged philosophical debate. Knowledge, developing more quickly than the vocabulary in which new discoveries could be expressed, borrowed terms still carrying the freight of alchemy and astrology. Scholars adapted existing words to new uses by playing upon the metaphorical implications of existing terms.1 The use of the same word for similar ideas in analyses of the human body and the social body is more than an analogy. There is a logical continuity between

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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