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The Vegetative Soul
From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine
The Vegetative Soul
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Elaine P. Miller - Author
SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Price: $62.50 
Hardcover - 260 pages
Release Date: August 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5391-X
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5391-9

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Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 260 pages
Release Date: August 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5392-8
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5392-6

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Rethinks the soul in plant-like terms rather than animal, drawing from nineteenth-century philosophy of nature.

The Vegetative Soul demonstrates that one significant resource for the postmodern critique of subjectivity can be found in German Idealism and Romanticism, specifically in the philosophy of nature. Miller demonstrates that the perception of German Idealism and Romanticism as the culmination of the philosophy of the subject overlooks nineteenth century critique of subjectivity with reference to the natural world. This book’s contribution is its articulation of a plant-like subjectivity. The vision of the human being as plant combats the now familiar conception of the modern subject as atomistic, autonomous, and characterized primarily by its separability and freedom from nature. Reading Kant, Goethe, Hölderlin, Hegel, and Nietzsche, Miller juxtaposes two strands of nineteenth-century German thought, comparing the more familiar 'animal' understanding of individuation and subjectivity to an alternative 'plantlike' one that emphasizes interdependence, vulnerability, and metamorphosis.

While providing the necessary historical context, the book also addresses a question that has been very important for recent feminist theory, especially French feminism, namely, the question of the possible configuration of a feminine subject. The idea of the 'vegetative' subject takes the traditional alignment of the feminine with nature and the earth and subverts and transforms it into a positive possibility. Although the roots of this alternative conception of subjectivity can be found in Kant’s third Critique and its legacy in nineteenth-century Naturphilosophie, the work of Luce Irigaray brings it to fruition.

“…Miller is a careful reader of the tradition who makes an original contribution to the problem of feminine subject formation by the convincing connection she draws between French feminist thought and the analysis of nature.” — Philosophy Today

“Kant, Goethe, Hölderlin, Hegel, and Nietzsche—there are many blossoms in Elaine Miller's garden, and all have been culled with keen intelligence and great sensibility. This is one of the finest books in the philosophy of science that I have ever read.” — David Farrell Krell, DePaul University

"The vegetative metaphor itself is often unexpected, and the ways in which the text opens up many new instances of it are always intriguing. Connections are made which provide insight and new ways of perceiving the parallels between Nietzsche’s thought and Eckhart’s, for example, or the tracing of common lines of thought across philosophy, science, and poetry, or the way the text brings Kant and Goethe into dialogue." — Karmen MacKendrick, author of Immemorial Silence

Elaine P. Miller is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Miami University.


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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
ABBREVIATIONS
INTRODUCTION

1. KANT
The English Garden

2. GOETHE
The Metamorphosis of Plants

3. HÖLDERLIN
Gleaning

4. FIGURES OF PLANT VULNERABILITY
Empedocles and the Tragic Christ

5. HEGEL
The Self-Sacrifice of the Innocent Plant

6. NIETZSCHE
The Ivy and the Vine

CONCLUSION: DISSEMINATION, RHIZOMES, EFFLORESCENCE
The Legacy of the Vegetative Soul in Twentieth-Century Thought

NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX



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