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Reviews341 who can push a provocative thesis with verve and skill. The chiefproblem is that his thesis is based on a special definition of theory. For Fish, a theory would deserve that name only if it stood entirely outside ofpractice and governed it absolutely by providing a set of explicit, rule-bound procedures for generating valid interpretations. Fish's model for this is Chomsky's linguistics. It may be true, as Fish claims, that "theory," in this narrow sense, "will never succeed" for "it cannot help but borrow its terms and its content from diat which it claims to transcend, the mutable world of practice, belief, assumptions, point of view, and so forth" (p. 111). But since "belief, assumptions, and point of view" are included in what most ofus mean by theory, the argument is less iconoclastic, and less important, than it first seems. Fish is aware of diis objection, and of others, and he addresses them with his usual resourcefulness. The result is a challenging essay that will, like the entire volume, stimulate readers to rethink their own theories, and their theory of theories. San Jose State UniversityDonald Keesey Originality and Imagination, by Thomas McFarland; 208 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985, $22.50. This book is not so much an attempt to diink about figures in the romantic period as to understand romanticism itself, and to understand the echoes of romanticism still heard today. McFarland's thesis is that whereas the term "soul" had efficacy before the seventeenth century, it has since that time retreated toward the status of a mere trope. However, the assault on soul made by Locke, Hume, La Mettrie, et al. , has gone along with the increase in power of the ideas of originality and imagination, which have in effect replaced soul as bulwarks against empiricism and materialism. In contrast, the outstanding critical term of Greek art was mimesis, with originality and imagination playing only small roles. Yet literary originality is a paradox because we cannot conceive of a writer except by invoking simultaneously the opposed categories of individual talent and intellectual tradition. McFarland does not attempt to resolve the paradox — a hopeless task, he thinks — but to place it within a more comprehensive picture, one which at least allows us to cajole the paradox and keep it within bounds. A writer's work, seen as an aesthetic object, appears against an anterior field, like a star against a galactic background. We can notice the existence of, and then the original features in, the object only because of its being within the field as part of a constellation, an example of which is English romanticism. Through this 342Philosophy and Literature theory of field-constellation-aesthetic object, McFarland tries to respond to the problems raised by Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence and by various deconstructionist theories. Several aesthetic objects (and dieir exhibitions of originality) are treated in detail: for example, Wordsworth's poems that hail the child as the best philosopher and Coleridge's conversation poems. These treatments occasion an analysis of the origin and significance of Coleridge's theory of secondary imagination , as well as die poetic workings of that imagination. In die process McFarland spends a great deal of time on Kant because the very basis for Coleridge 's distinction between primary imagination (or perception) and secondary imagination is in Kant's philosophy. As regards the former Kant holds that imagination is necessary for the representation of "all objects of possible experience ." And concerning the latter Kant refers to either apperception (which is the more technical term and looks backward to Kant's predecessors) or imagination (which is the more emotionally charged term and looks forward to the new intensities of romanticism). Moreover, Kant exemplifies better than anyone else the transition from soul to imagination. The first critique dismantles metaphysical claims made in favor of soul so as to make room for the higher function of imagination, connected with Kantian practical reason, which is directed toward the freedom of the will, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of God. McFarland obviously sympathizes with romantic originality and imagination , which "hold aloft their flickering torches" against the "encompassing darkness" of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 341-342
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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