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The Virtue of Sensibility

WEBB, David (2018) The Virtue of Sensibility. In: Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary. Bloomsbury Press, London. ISBN 9781350060692

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Abstract or description

This paper aims to identify in Michel Serres’ work a sense of virtue associated with sensibility. Using Canguilhem’s writing on the relation between the living being and its milieu as a counterpoint, I propose that in his writing on the senses Serres promotes the value of an engagement with nature that is creative, but which also exercises restraint. Only in this way can new sense and value emerge through our participation in the communication of one thing with another. Serres’ writing on the figure of Orpheus serves to illustrate the balance he advocates between the noise of the material world and the stability of different forms of language. The virtue of sensibility I propose one can find in Serres’ writing lies in being able to occupy this intermediary position between two deadly risks: the dispersion and formlessness of noise, and the sterility of a world of meaning cut off from its material source. His understanding of our relation to the natural world is based on a materialism that cuts across the distinction between mechanism and vitalism. It is a condition for the new contract that Serres proposes we forge with nature.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Uncontrolled Keywords: INCL
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Humanities and Performing Arts
Depositing User: David WEBB
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 11:53
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:48

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