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Reviews303 product of our blindness to the large differences there are between ethical beliefs and beliefs about the weather (p. 144). To understand the Socratic equation of virtue with knowledge, we must integrate that thesis wim the therapeutic conception of the elenchus. That is what Seeskin does, and does very well. His account of Socrates is persuasive. It ameliorates the unhappy rigors of intellectualism while avoiding the mistake of supposing that Socrates is equating virtue with practical skills, with "knowing how" radier than "knowing that." Seeskin's analysis also offers an understanding of Socratic ethics which really does illuminate the question of why Plato wrote dialogues. Seeskin argues that what "is at stake in a Socratic dialogue is not, at least not primarily, the logical relations between propositions but the interaction of moral agents" (p. 3). Conversation is integral to the Socratic method. Socrates can guide and goad, but he cannot putwisdom into the soul. At most, he canbring people to the condition in which they can make dieir own ethical discoveries. Nothing else will do: to have ethical wisdom, each person must discover good and evil for himself. It follows for Plato that exposition ofthe views ofSocrates cannot insert knowledge into the soul of the reader. The most useful thing that a text in ethics can do is to engage, arouse, alert, amuse, or shock me reader into growing in understanding . Plato's texts continue Socrates' work. Far too much of the secondary literature on Socrates assumes that his philosophical interestconsists almost wholly in his aptness for producing arguments. If this were true, then real interest in Socrates as a philosopher could hardly survive the discovery that most of his arguments are not especially good. Fortunately , the assumption is not true. Seeskin's work is a clear, attractive, and valuable witness to the real interest of Socrates the philosopher. University of Canterbury, New ZealandDerek Browne Celine's Imaginative Space, byJane Carson; 200 pp. American University Studies, Series II (Romance Languages and Literature), Vol. 42; New York: Peter Lang, 1987, $32.50. Beginning Celine's Imaginative Space with the somewhat debatable premise mat Celine's fictions are parodies of the picaresque novel, Professor Carson uses the ironic transformation of the picaresque quest as her Ariadne's thread to map Celine's fictional universe. Her objective is to study what she calls "primary clusters of images related to space, movement, and the concept of time" (p. 4). Wending a creative path through the thematic complexities of Celine's fictions, she first treats the labyrinth, a figuration of conscious space 304Philosophy and Literature (chapter 1), men falls and falling, as images of degradation (chapter 2). Falling becomes in turn a transitional movement to die figuration of die unconscious space ofdie underground (chapter 3). From the underground, expressed from me volcano, bursts fire, as a configuration of creative expression itself (chapter 4). Waiting and ending follow fire as images ofclosure without necessary conclusion (chapter 5). Carson concludes her study with a final chapter treating die mutual assimilation of quest and narrative, two themes inseparably intertwined since the fall from the conscious to the unconscious. Carson structures her exploration of the imaginative space according to the common diematic grounds of die imagery she discovers in a survey of all of Celine's novels. In the process, she makes no apologies for die uneven quality of Celine's writing or narrative art. Nor does she misrepresent eidier existing criticism or currendy accepted understandings of the novels' artistic merits. Her critical agenda is to plunge below the surface functions of the narration as representation and to explore the infrastructure of the images' metaphorical functions. Carson develops two major concepts diat she believes inherent in Celine's novelistic universe. One is die understanding that Celine's imaginative space is from die outset less die representation of die quest than its origin and its expressive outcome. The other is that the structure of the quest is indistinguishable from that of the imaginative space it occupies. Thus, "already ensconced in die imagination from die start" (p. 6), the narrator-protagonist in Celine's fictional world is a narrative consciousness implied by the world which it shapes. Carson's study...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 303-305
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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