Cranford Thesis Final.pdf


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AGAINST THE LAW: NON-IDENTITY AND THE CRISIS OF INDIVIDUAL
AUTONOMY IN WORLD LITERATURE

Nathan Cranford
San Francisco, California
2012

This thesis explores the literary and societal implications of “non-identity” as
outlined by Theodor W. Adorno in his seminal treatise on the concept: Negative
Dialectics. I analyze several primary and secondary examples of literature by European
authors such as William Blake, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse, as well as
figures such as the Chinese Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi and Korean author Kim Tong-in
in order to showcase how non-identity can spark a renewal in the individual’s willingness
to become autonomous once more. As a counterpoint, I examine the dangers of
individual autonomy and unrestrained non-identity through a discussion of a figure I call
the “malignant ascetic.” The conclusions made herein should help to augment already
established theories of non-identity and individual autonomy set forth by thinkers such as
Adorno, G.W.F Hegel, and Immanuel Kant in a way that is both clear to the average
reader and relevant to the times in which we live.

I certify that the Abstract is a correct representation of the content of this thesis.

_______________________________________
Dane Johnson
Chair, Thesis Committee

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Date