Pragmatism as a conceptual framework for Binx’s “search” in the Moviegoer.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Grant D. Jolliff (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Scott Romine

Abstract: I seek to show how Binx’s “search” serves as an example of intersubjectivity by challenging the scientific humanism prevalent in the mid 20th Century. Succinctly put, Binx challenges both the general and the localized versions of scientific humanism. Percy presents scientific humanism as a characteristic of general society, one co-opted by intellectuals, scientists, and Southern stoics to affirm their beliefs. I use a new methodology that analyzes the search as an educational experience. Binx sharpens and develops the tools necessary in challenging stoicism and scientific humanism. This paper builds on Percy criticism to show doubt and belief as the novel’s driving forces. Belief serves as a landing pad for the searcher who inevitably comes to doubt; the interplay between the two defines Percy’s new “thinking” individual. For Percy, doubt begets a matrix through which an individual tunes into the ideas of others by questioning their beliefs. Through this sharing of ideas –intersubjectivity- individuals form a community of “namers,” people who arrive at “truths” through a testing of ideas. In its presentation of belief and “doubt, the open plot of the novel becomes a metaphor for the way all humans come to “know.” Localizing the searcher’s struggles within scientific humanism and its apostles in Binx, the book demonstrates the constant shifting between doubt and belief. The “education” provided by the “the search,” however, leads to Binx’s ability to form “community” by engaging with them in semiotic community; a system built off the meaning of symbols as they pertain to others. Unlike scientific humanism’s tendency to isolate individuals as organisms separate from a community, Percy’s semiotics seek to base community off an intercommunication that affirms the individual’s ability to affect meaning.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Pragmatism, Scientific humanism, Philosophy, Literary Criticism
Percy, Walker, $d 1916-1990 $x Criticism and interpretation.
Percy, Walker, $d 1916-1990. $t Moviegoer.
Belief and doubt.
Secular humanism.
Pragmatism in literature.

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