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BOOK REVIEWS 12 7 let me exercise the reviewer's right to carp. In fact, here are two carps, one smaller, one bigger. The smaller first: There is only limited standardization of Hobbes's sources in this book. While it is not within Oxford University Press's ability to enforce on contributors the editions they use, surely it is within that venerable press's competence to standardize citation styles. This would help the reader who wants to compare and contrast, which must be one of the objects of any such production. My second point is wider, vaguer, but nonetheless important. On account of the focus of these essays, the reader is often not told of the wider implications of Hobbes's arguments, how in some cases they describe the very ambits of subsequent discussion in English and continental political theory. An extended introduction, or better still a chapter at the end, might have brought out some of those broader, more portentous themes. MALCOLM JACK London Susan Bordo. The Flight to Objectivity: Essays on Cartesianism and Culture. SUNY Series in Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987. Pp. xi + 145. Cloth, $34.5 o. Paper, $1 ~-95Birth involves the separation from a mother with whom one was united organically; then a child learns to distinguish between self and other people and the external world. In growing up, each of us must separate from our mothers to become independent individuals. Piaget says that, in males, recognition of the other gives rise to separation anxiety and to anxiety about the uncontrollable. This often results in a defense reaction against the fears of alienness and separation, which reaction takes the form of resentment and rejection of the mother, and a "flight from the feminine" (5, 9, loo, lO8-12). The adult chooses the separation and independence that is thrust upon him, thereby overcoming anxiety and gaining control. Susan R. Bordo suggests that Descartes's model of a pure mind with clear and distinct knowledge of a mechanistic external world is his defense reaction to growing up, and that Cartesian objectivism is the seventeenth century's defense reaction against parturition from the "mother-world of the Middle Ages and Renaissance" (5)Bordo argues forcefully that Cartesian scepticism--distrust of the senses and of the old organic ways of conceiving the world as sources of knowledge--was perfectly reasonable in a century (155o-166o) that witnessed "the worst food crisis in history, violent wars, plague, and devastating poverty" (111). Her analysis of Descartes's Meditations and criticism of such Cartesian scholars as Doney, Stout, Frankfurt, Williams, Malcolm, and Kenny who appear to have as a "goal a minimization of the seriousness of Cartesian doubt" (15) are acute and, I think, on target. As for the phylogeny-recapitulates-ontogeny thesis, Bordo carefully presents it merely as a " 'story' of parturition from the organic universe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance" (loo), " 'a drama of parturition' " (11,6~), to help us understand psychologically the transition to the "barren landscape of the modern universe" (78), "the cold, new world" (95)" It seems unlikely that she thinks cultures have consciousnesses, 128 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29: [ JANUARY 199t experience anxieties, and have defense reactions as individual human beings do. You cannot really psychoanalyze a culture nor explain cultural transformations with psychological categories and processes that apply to the development of individual human beings. The only way such a story can help us understand a culture is on the implicit assumption that the specific pattern and direction of development of many individuals like Galileo and Descartes can be added up to result in a similarly patterned and directed development of culture. And to that extent Bordo's analogical comparison is interesting and suggestive. Of course, as Bordo herself says, the analogy is far from complete, given that people like Descartes and Galileo develop the ideas that change cultures after they are already adult and have already made the ordinary distinctions between subject and object, self and others. They consciously (unlike babies and children ) develop models of knowledge--in this case, of science, with its stress on sharp distinctions, analysis, clearness and distinctness, mastery and control. Bordo's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 127-129
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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