Essays by Me
Essays by Others
A letter, written from “New London, Conn.,” published in The Saturday
Review, August 26, 1967, 26 [“Letters to the Book Review Editor”].
In an earlier issue the anarchist poet and art critic
Sir Herbert Read had reviewed the first
volume of Langer’s Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling, and in her
letter she charges that he “seriously misrepresents” her intent.
Thinking the letter’s printed heading, “Intent: One Scientific System,”
almost certainly supplied by the editor, would appear cryptic to my
visitors, I’ve have added a few words.
November 20, 2008
The Intent of Mind: One Scientific
Susanne K. Langer
In SR [Saturday Review] July 15, Sir Herbert Read
reviewed the first volume of my Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling.
Unfortunately, he treated the second of its six parts (three are in the
published volume) as the only important part, and consequently the whole
work as concerned with aesthetics, although the chapters which interest
him have only an orienting function; but as a passing bow to the real
intent of the book, he makes at the outset a statement which so
seriously misrepresents my intent that I cannot but protest against it.
He says, “. . . her final purpose . . . is metaphysical: she has the
ambition to present a new metaphysical system.” Nothing could be
further from my ambition, which is only to construct a conceptual
framework for biological thinking that will connect its several
departments, from biochemistry to neuropsychology, in one scientific
system. Such work is philosophical, but does not commit one to any
philosophical system, new or old; and it is certainly not metaphysical.
Any metaphysical statement must apply to the world as a whole, not only
to mind or even life. I have no such statement to offer.