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Fighting for Life

Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness

by Walter J. Ong

Publication Year: 2012

"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 7-8

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pp. 9-12

From antiquity the human being has been considered the "microcosm," the "little world" in which all of the forces and all of the reality of the entire great world, the universe or macrocosm, are represented. Sometimes the human being was thought of as a kind of mirror of all else in the universe. ...

Part One: Backgrounds

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1. Contest and Other Adversatives

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pp. 15-48

Contest is a part of human life everywhere that human life is found. In war and in games, in work and in play, physically, intellectually, and morally, human beings match themselves with or against one another. Struggle appears inseparable from human life, ...

Part Two: Patterns of Adversativeness

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2. Contest and Sexual Identity

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pp. 51-96

Need for the adversative is common to all human beings, male and female. But by and large through the entire animal kingdom, among infrahuman as well as the human species, conspicuous or expressed adversativeness is a larger element in the lives of males than of females, ...

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3. Separation and Self-Giving: Pietà and Quixote

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pp. 97-116

Masculinity for human males and, in ways explained earlier, even for infrahuman males engenders agonistic activity because it is something to be won, achieved, "always in a state of being earned " (Bardwick, 197 1:204), not at all simply something one is born with . ...

Part Three: Past, Present, and Future

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4. Academic and Intellectual Arenas

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pp. 119-148

The deep psychological and cultural changes that over the past few decades have come over the West and, to varying degrees, the entire globe register the basic sociobiological and noobiological patterns described in the foregoing chapters. Some of the most striking adjustments in agonistic behavior have appeared in the academic world. ...

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5. Some Present Issues

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pp. 149-183

The shift in agonistic structures within academia has not been a consciously managed change in strategies or tactics. For the most part, it took place without anyone's understanding what was going on and even without conscious awareness that anything special was going on at all. ...

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6. Contest and Interiorization

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pp. 184-210

This account of the prehuman and human history of contest docs not provide a complete explanation of human nature or of sexuality or of the evolution of consciousness, or even of consciousness itself. By tracing the history of contest through some of bio logical and noetic history, it has merely brought attention to bear on otherwise neglected features of human existence. ...


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pp. 211-222


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pp. 223-232

E-ISBN-13: 9780801466298
E-ISBN-10: 0801466296
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801478451
Print-ISBN-10: 0801478456

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 567850747
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fighting for Life