Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 October 2021
The fourth chapter offers an extended conclusion that examines an international controversy ignited by the guillotine that revolved around the relationship between cognition and sensation, the evidentiary authority of bodily experience, and the limitations of human perception. It argues that the works of Fuseli, Girodet, and de Loutherbourg point to the radical remapping of an Enlightenment empirical framework that used the human body as a privileged source of knowledge. The controversies that circulated around the guillotine heralded, instead, a world in which “appearance” and “truth,” “seeing” and “knowing,” were radically decoupled – a world where scientists began removing direct sensory observation from their experimental procedures and where the idealized nude body no longer stabilized pictorial meaning. It proposes that this shift had significant implications for the epistemological status of experience for Romanticism, more broadly.