English Literature

Philosophical Chaucer: Love, Sex, and Agency in the by Mark Miller

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By Mark Miller

Whereas so much Chaucer critics attracted to gender and sexuality have used psychoanalytic concept to investigate Chaucer's poetry, Mark Miller re-examines the hyperlinks among sexuality and the philosophical research of employer in medieval texts akin to the Canterbury stories, Boethius's comfort of Philosophy, and the Romance of the Rose. Chaucer's philosophical sophistication offers the foundation for a brand new interpretation of the rising notions of sexual hope and romantic love within the overdue heart a long time.

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Extra info for Philosophical Chaucer: Love, Sex, and Agency in the Canterbury Tales

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What needs clarifying first is just what it means to describe this picture as a species of naturalism. ’’9 As Kolve’s appeals to instinct and necessity suggest, his point is about the practical normativity of ‘‘the natural,’’ the way nature is supposed to settle questions of what to do, and so to take the place, at least initially, not of reason as a whole but of practical reason specifically. The tale presents a picture of human life according to which desire and its objects are determined by a set of naturally given facts: the fact that such a creature as Alisoun exists, for instance, is supposed to be enough to settle the matter when it comes to male erotic desire, which is the Miller’s central case.

Et tamen tantum interest inter me ipsum et me ipsum . . ut anima mea sequatur me . . ut non sit rebellis sibi. Surely I have not ceased to be my own self . . and yet there is still a great gap between myself and myself . . Oh that my soul might follow my own self . . 27 The occasion of Augustine’s lament is sexual. Specifically, it is his ongoing susceptibility to sexual imaginings and erotic dreams, accompanied by feelings of great pleasure and sometimes by nocturnal emissions, long after his conversion to Christianity and to a life of chastity.

23 I will conclude this sketch of a theoretical territory by invoking a brief Nietzschean passage that condenses many of the core conceptual concerns of this book. For Nietzsche, normativity must be conceived in terms of the sublimation of violence and domination into ethical values, mores, and laws, a sublimation that takes place in the production of both social collectivities and individual psyches. But he rejects the proposal that, rather than ‘‘submitting abjectly to capricious laws,’’ we should or even could throw off the shackles of normativity: Every morality is .

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