Creative Consciousness and the Natural World in Virginia Woolf’s the Waves

  • Beverly Ann Schlack
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 14)


In the history of thought, nature and man have often formed either a unity or an opposition. Western man has frequently had trouble determining whether he stands independent — a unique, rational being somehow in contradistinction if not actually superior to the natural world — or whether his being is a harmonious, integral part of the natural universe. Whenever a strict contrast of natural and rational man is set up, contradictory metaphysics as well as different strategies of behavior result. Man may see himself as having to rise from a brute state of nature to the illumination of consciousness and spirituality. Or he may believe he has to descend from his attenuated rational life to the basic “reality” of nature. Whether man places himself in a cooperative or a rebellious stance with regard to nature as eternal process and infinite energy also depends to a large degree upon the sort of man he is. The average man is accepting and makes no effort to subvert the cosmos; he feels his dependence upon natural law and submits to the reality of his immediate environment. The creative artist negates man’s dependence upon nature through the creation of works of art, pitting the linear continuity of human achievement against the uncaring, cyclical reality of the rational world. He enters upon a quest to transform the given natural world within which the average man remains locked; he sees nature and life as raw materials to be refashioned.


Natural World Creative Artist Natural Universe Phenomenal World True Story 
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  1. 1.
    Oscar Wilde, ‘The Decay of Lying,’ in The Works of Oscar Wilde ( Roslyn, N.Y.: Black’s Reader’s Service, 1927 ), p. 597Google Scholar
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
    Ibid., p. 614.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Russell, ‘A Free Man’s Worship,’ in Mysticismand Logic (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1957), p. 46, 50.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ibid., p. 51.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverly Ann Schlack
    • 1
  1. 1.New York CityUSA

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