Paul Valéry: Conciousness & Nature

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Picked this up today at a used book store. You never know what you’ll find in that little store: the history section is particularly impressive. None of it is cataloged in alphabetical order so you have to dig. I looked for a Whitehead book but among all the old Kant and Nietzsche re-prints no ANW available, and then, sandwiched in between a philosophy introduction book and an old brown copy of Hegel, there was Valéry. I must admit that I’ve never read him, and only ever come to know of him by reading others, and being a painter I have come to know of him through painters. It will be nice to begin to explore his world.

The writeup for this book at Cambridge is the following:

” Paul Valery refused to choose between art and science. Although critics have often separated in their discussions of his work his poetry and his thought, he looked upon poetic composition as but one means of deepening his interest in the human mind in all its possibilities. It has been said nevertheless that because of his predominant interest in the mind – in the nature of self-awareness in particular – he was concerned only superficially with anything apart from mental processes. Dr Crow shows that this is not so: on the contrary, self-awareness for Valery was the mainspring of a sensitive and detailed involvement with the forms and processes of the natural world. By concentrating on a theme so central to Valery’s interests as consciousness and nature, this book has the merit of approaching his many-sided writings from the point of their greatest unity. The book provides one of the first comprehensive studies of the underlying unity of Valery’s poetry and thought.”

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