As Walker Percy explores the "dogfish" of perception and knowledge in his essay, "The Loss of the Creature," I wonder if he realizes how slippery and feisty the topic squirming on his desk is. Although anyone who has taken a guided tour will surely agree that the traditional tourist experience is necessarily divorced from that of a discoverer, the broad epistemological claims that Percy extracts from this scenario seem more complicated than Percy gives them credit, or space, for. When Percy suggests that an individual should aim to "extract the thing from the package," he insists that the individual seek out some solid bedrock beneath the surface of perception (519). In this statement, he implicitly calls the reader to believe that such bedrock exists and is accessible to humans, a controversial position in the postmodern world.
By arguing that excavation towards a static and fixed "creature" is possible, Percy echoes the voice of Plato, who argues that humans should strive to know the essential "forms" lying beneath ephemeral existence. Plato and his mentor, Socrates, devise...
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...n the level below him, yet he recognizes its limitations and understands what he sees all the more because of this awareness.
Heisenberg, Werner. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science. New York: Harper & Row, 1958.
Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky, eds. Ways of Reading. 3rd Ed. New York: Bedford, 1995.
Percy, Walker. "The Loss of the Creature." Bartholomae and Petrosky. 423-436.
Tompkins, Jane. "'Indians:' Textualism, Morality and the Problem of History." Bartholomae and Petrosky. 584-601.
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