FLOYD MERRELL


José Arcadio Buendía's Scientific
Paradigms: Man in Search of Himself

The stuff of the world may be called physical or mental or both or neither as we please; in fact the words serve no purpose.

— BERTRAND RUSSELL

Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad ( One Hundred Years of Solitude) presents a multidimensional microcosm. The novel can be construed as symbolic of Colombia (the socio-political level), Latin America (the mythico-cultural level), Christianity (the mystico-religious level), the world (the historical/archetypal levels), or the universe (the cyclical/entropic levels). In light of this observation, our analysis will focus on certain elements of García Márquez's novel which are analogous, on broad historical/archetypal levels, to Western man's struggle to explicate and comprehend nature. Our procedure entails the construction of a system of parallels between the "scientific paradigms" postulated and implemented by José Arcadio Buendía, founder and patriarch of Macondo, and the structural history of scientific philosophy in the Western World.

One of the first great scientific movements arose among the Ionian philosophers, a branch of the Asiatic Greeks, from six hundred to four hundred years B.C. They attempted to present ideas as bare facts devoid of all subjectivity. In so doing they removed the gods from nature and repudiated magic and mysticism. However, having established commercial relations with the Mesopotamian cultures, they were inevitably subjected to certain "exotic" ideas from the East.

____________________
From Latin American Literary Review, no. 4 ( Spring-Summer 1974). © 1973 by the Department of Modern Languages, Carnegie-Mellon University.

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