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American TerrorThe Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville$
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Paul Hurh

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804791144

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804791144.001.0001

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The Uneven Balance

The Uneven Balance

Dialectical Terror in Moby-Dick

(p.161) 4 The Uneven Balance
American Terror

Paul hurh

Stanford University Press

This chapter argues that the terror of Moby-Dick dramatizes the logical paradoxes of a meta-dialectical method. It introduces a study of the influence of Melville’s close friend, George Adler, a proponent of Hegelian metaphysics and a chronic paranoiac, upon Moby-Dick. And it shows how the multiple terrors of Moby-Dick do not arise from one or the other philosophical commitment, but rather from a Hegel-inspired application of dialectical method to the problem of dialectical method itself. The chapter analyzes how moments of precarious balance, in Moby-Dick, are paired with an existential and epistemological terror. The chapter concludes with a reading of how Melville models this dialectical terror upon the physical properties of light.

Keywords:   Melville, Moby-Dick, George Adler, Charles Deas, dialectics, Hegel, Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, The Death Struggle

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