Neohelicon

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 303–315 | Cite as

Taking Darwin metaphorically and literally: genres and sciences in a survival struggle

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Abstract

The tendency to emulate the nomothetic discourse of the natural sciences appeared in the history of genre theory, including that of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. According to both the positivist history of literary genres (Brunetière) and the materialistic-systemic approach (Moretti), the concept of evolution figures as an epistemic metaphor through which the discipline can re-conceptualize itself and thus achieve a scientific nomothetic character. During the present heyday of social Darwinism and global economism, the epistemological difference between the humanities and hard sciences is escalating into a struggle for the survival of both: the modern branch of literary Darwinism understands the theory of evolution literally and uses it to interpret literature (including its genres) as a phenomenon resulting from remote evolutionary adaptations of the human species. Neo-Darwinists advertise that a full harmonization of literary studies with the natural-science paradigm (“consilience”) will ensure the former’s survival; yet, they practice traditional literary interpretation, seeking in literary texts allegories of the biologically conceived “human nature.”

Keywords

Literary studies Humanities Science Literary genres Ideology of science Epistemic metaphor Interdiscursivity  Science wars  Evolution Literary Darwinism 

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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ZRC SAZU Research CenterLjubljanaSlovenia

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