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Reviews193 tions. But one suspects that a Catholic martyr, an opportunistic convert, an erotic prelate, a religious eccentric, and a Protestant apologist would have come to these issues rather naturally anyway. Grant gives tantalizing glimpses into writers really affected by the new method when he comments, not always favorably, on Hobbes and Digby. Because the book stretches from early Humanism to the decline of Augustan neoclassicism, from More to Law, many other figures spring to mind as better exemplars of the literary sensibility facing out the scientific revolution. Overall, though, the book really seems to be about the triumph of imaginative mysticism over abstract theology and reductionist science. Literature and the Discovery of Method in the English Renaissance does open up important possibilities for the critical exploration of literature. As T. S. Kuhn reminds us, a scientific community can change the perspectives of those who experience it, whether directly through specific systematic arguments or indirectly through general attitudes and opinions. University of Puget SoundFrancis L. Cousens Contest of Faculties: Philosophy and Theory after Deconstruction , by Christopher Norris; vii & 247 pp. New York: Methuen, 1985, $32.00 cloth, $12.95 paper. To secure some rapprochement between philosophy and deconstruction is the initially inviting mission of Christopher Norris's Contest of Faculties. On completing the book, however, one recalls the author's contemplated alternate title, "Rescuing Philosophy" (p. 5), with the profound desire to cling to the philosophical mast rather than take to Norris's rudderless inflatables. Norris, of course, anticipates such reaction as a feature of his "contest." Only it is not his allegiance to deconstruction which is the problem: it is his allegiance to philosophy. The book comprises eight separate essays bracketed between matchingly digressional chapters of introduction and conclusion. In some essays, the view is that philosophy is salutary for poststructuralist literary and cultural theory (for instance, "Sense, Reference and Logic"). In others, it is that the latter is salutary for the former (for instance, "Aesthetics and Politics"). And in none is there evidence of the "logical rigor" which the author believes to be a common ground of engagement. On behalf of philosophy, "Sense, Reference and Logic: a Critique of PostStructuralist Theory" attempts to show that Frege's account of reference is an 194Philosophy and Literature antidote to the (unidentified) fancy that the real world disappears in Saussure's linguistic focus on the signifier and the signified. The essay comprises a simplified and repetitious account of what Norris scrupulously acknowledges as "Dummett's Frege" (p. 49) on reference; deviations which include the unlikely twinning of Quine and Foucault; and the unstartling conclusion that "the concept of reference plays an operative role in any adequate theory oflanguage" and that registering this "would help to remove some of the self-induced puzzles and perplexities that characterize post-structuralist discourse" (p. 68). Well, no doubt. But it is lambently unclear why, or even whether, Norris thinks that Saussure's theory of signs is supposed to be a theory of language in the broadly metaphysical sense which frequently exercised Frege. The underlying fixation in this essay and elsewhere is that deconstructionists may be too antirealist, Marxists may be too materialist, and philosophers argue about realism. This may in part explain the appearance of Norris's most frequently mentioned philosopher (19 references against a mere 13 even for Derrida). That philosopher is called "Kant." But just as we have a Dummett's Frege we have a Kant read by the deconstructionist Paul de Man. And de-Man-uel Kant has some hitherto undetected eccentricities, most notably in aesthetics— a natural focus for Norris's contest. We are told, for example, that de-Man-uel Kant's account of aesthetic judgment "tends towards a moment of phenomenalist reduction which seeks a grounding in sensory experience" (p. 11). Immanuel Kant, by contrast, sought to ground aesthetic judgment in feeling and imagination. Further, deMan -uel's aesthetic — Norris here quotes de Man himself— "is epistemological as well as political through and through" (p. 130). Immanuel, by contrast, explicitly denied that aesthetic experience has any epistemic force at all and insisted that it ought to be disinterested. This last, spectacular deconstructionist reversal of Kant allows Norris a platform for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 193-195
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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