Making Mind

Moral Sense and Consciousness in Philosophy, Science, and Literature


Making Mind: Moral Sense and Consciousness in Philosophy, Science, and Literature posits the genesis of narrative as an adaptive function stemming from consciousness and moral sense. The book is unique with its idea of the individual character evolving narrative in relation to the group. Central to the argument is the claim that prehistorically, consciousness and moral sense intersected to form narrative. More than addressing the origin of story, the book examines and explains the evolution of narrative. The book is an interesting study of how our species-inherited moral sense can differ dramatically from one individual to another. While mores pertain to a group, narrative comes from and is processed by the individual and reaches its high point in the novel. We see how the moral sense works in characters as a monitor, and we feel it operating in us as readers in terms of approval, or not.
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Biographical Note

Gregory F. Tague is a professor of literary studies and founder and senior developer of The Evolutionary Studies Collaborative at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, New York. His work leans toward reader-response ethical criticism and the history of ideas by examining major English novels from the years 1720 to 1930 and, more specifically, falls in line with evolutionary cultural studies. His previous books include Character and Consciousness: George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence (2005) and Ethos and Behavior: The English Novel from Jane Austen to Henry James (2008).

Review Quote

“In this illuminating and wide-ranging study, Gregory F. Tague returns to a familiar chapter of English literary history in order to give it an evolutionary twist. His erudite account of morality in science, philosophy and the eighteenth-century novel hinges on the proposition that human beings are equipped with an inborn but culturally coded moral sense whose real-life manifestations have also had a bearing on the stories told by people since time immemorial. Typically providing a “narrative of self in relation to others”, the early English novel is a strikingly prescient medium for the imaginative reflection of how the social nature of Homo sapiens gives form to moral sentiments – prescient because it seems to anticipate what science has taught us about human nature in recent years. Tague argues this point persuasively by enriching his astute analysis of literature, especially Richardson’s Clarissa, with an impressive array of extradisciplinary research. Making Mind is a significant addition to the growing field of evolutionary literary criticism, illustrating not only the by now remarkable scope of this line of inquiry but also the fundamental applicability of evolutionary psychology to the study of literature.” – Anja Müller-Wood, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz "A biologist, a philosopher and a literary historian walk into a bar. The bartender asks, 'What makes a human?' Making Mind is an immediately intense account of the ensuing discussion. No joke—this book covers an enormous amount of ground with an erudite slam, a blistering onslaught of references, and manages in the end to bring C. P. Snow’s two cultures together in a way I have never seen done before. Part of this complex project is to demonstrate a productive relationship between evolution and narrative, two buzzwords from either side of the science/humanities divide that are often pigeonholed as code-words for nature vs. nurture. Another theme weaving through this dense account is the ultimately successful argument that the emerging consensus in evolutionary anthropology, bolstered with recent cognitive science, nicely interdigitates with important developments in 18th century British literature in their description of human moral nature. Completely aside from the momentous themes and the blistering onslaught of references, it is refreshing to see a discussion that is equally loving of evolution and humanities: our past and our produce as human beings." – David C. Lahti, Queens College, CUNY “An ambitious book that employs literature, science and philosophy in service to the question what makes a human mind the way it is....Gregory Tague admirably attempts to bridge the gap between the humanities and sciences in an effort to explain how the relationship between moral sense and consciousness creates the human mind....Challenging in more ways than one, it is also a thought-provoking work of deep scholarship and insight and an excellent exemplar of the current state of interdisciplinary writing.” – Douglas J. Cremer. European Legacy 22.3 (2017): 361-363.

Table of contents

Preface Acknowledgements Introduction Section One: Philosophy Section Two: Science Section Three: Literature Conclusion Bibliography Index