From: Katherine D. Harris []
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 3:50 PM
To: Class List
Subject: Great Chain of Being

Dear All, 

The 20th-Century study of the great chain philosophy is Arthur Lovejoy's The Great Chain of Being, originally published in 1936 and then again in 1964.  Lovejoy offers a history of this philosophical treatise: 

That the use of the term "the chain of being" as the descriptive name for the universe was usually a way of predicating of the constitution of the world three specific, pregnant, and very curious characteristics; that these characteristics implied a certain conception of the nature of God; that this conception was for centuries conjoined with another to which it was in latent opposition -- an opposition which eventually became overt; that most of the religious thought of the West has thus been profoundly at variance with itself; that with the same assumptions about the constitution of the world was associated an assumption about ultimate value, also in conflict with another and equally prevalent conception of the good -- the former manifesting its full consequences only in the Romantic period . . . (Preface vii)
This is an interesting concept that will appear sporadically throughout our Romantic-era literature.  Enjoy your weekend!
 Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Assistant Professor
Dept. of English & Comp. Lit.
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192
Phone: 408.924.4425