Balance and Extremity: A Comparison of Richards and Bataille



A sense of the disparate reception of organicism in the twentieth century can be gleaned by comparing the early writings of I. A. Richards with those of Georges Bataille. In what follows, I will present their response to the organicist heritage in the 1920s and early 1930s. This seemingly incongruous coupling will demonstrate an important crossroads in the development of thought on organicism. From this junction, one way leads towards more moderate and simple structures, and to the ignoring of inherent problems of organicism. The other way is embroiled in the extremities and aporias inherited from Coleridge and his contemporaries, and in the process leads to the abandonment of the possibility of structural closure. While my reading of Richards will show that the notion of the closed totality of the work can only perilously put its trust in organicism, the following interpretation of Bataille’s early texts will show how a modern, subversive understanding of the body is born from radical elements of the heritage of organicism.


Early Text Psychological Structure Heterogeneous Element Homogeneous Society Intellectual Intuition 
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Copyright information

© Charles I. Armstrong 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BergenNorway

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