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358Philosophy and Literature Renewing Philosophy, by Hilary Putnam; xii & 234 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992, $25.00. Hilary Putnam's intellectual career has been both an index of and a contributing factor to the steady expansion ofintellectual horizons that has typified postwar analytic philosophy. While the work that made his reputation in the 1960s focused on the philosophy of logic, mathematics, and science, in the intervening years Putnam has come to include among his concerns not only the philosophy of mind and language, but also ethics, hermeneutics, the philosophy of social science and, in this volume of Gifford Lectures, even the philosophy of religion. Clearly Putnam has become a thinker to be reckoned with in the humanities, and Renewing Philosophy should provide the best approach to his thought for those (literary theorists, say) who might have difficulty negotiating the more technical sections of such previous overviews as Meaning and tL· Moral Sciences (1978) and Reason, Truth and History (1981). Philosophy needs renewing, Putnam argues, because of the two trends that he finds dominating it. One is the kind of reductionistic materialism that marks the work of Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, Ruth Milikan, Paul and Patricia Churchland, and others who hope in effect to solve traditional problems of philosophy by appeal to scientific theories or—more often—by recasting those problems in scientific-sounding· vocabularies adapted from evolutionary theory, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, or whatnot. In demolishing the scientistic pretensions ofthis kind ofphilosophy, Putnam does not go so far as to renounce the faith of his teacher, Willard Quine, that philosophy should be treated as continuous with science; but he is certainly continuing the exploration of the limit of such "naturalizing" approaches to philosophy he began in Realism and Reason (1983). The second influential trend that Putnam criticizes is the kind of cultural relativism that he sees in the work of Richard Rorty, in the "worldmaking" theories of Nelson Goodman, and in continental philosophy quite generally— though Putnam targets deconstruction here. Theorists in the humanities may be put off by his critique of Derrida, which assumes that there is litde in his thought worth criticizing except what can be found more clearly stated in Rorty or Goodman, butiftheycan overcome their prejudices they will learn something anyway. While Putnam's first six lectures are negative, arguing the need for renewal, in the last three he oudines some prospects for renewing philosophy. A key idea here is that we must now read certain philosophers whom Putnam sees as standing against contemporary currents—a surprisingly Rortyish or Derridean line for him to take, surely. Less surprising are the thinkers he picks out as exemplary: Wittgenstein and Dewey, who, along withJames, Peirce, and Kant, have come to figure ever larger in Putnam's recent writing; see especially Realism Reviews359 with a Human Face (1990), which includes essays that enlarge on most of the topics covered in Renewing Philosophy. The common element that he identifies in their work is a recognition of the irreducibly normative element in human life and thought, an element that is exacdy what the materialist and relativist tendencies that Putnam attacks try either to dissolve or to deny. No doubt this is an illuminating diagnosis, but sometimes Putnam is guilty of characterizing attempts to eliminate the normative from philosophical accounts as if they were just a matter of bad faith—as if, that is, a motive of philosophical prudence might not also be involved: normativity is a deeply problematic conception, after all, even if Putnam is right that it cannot finally be avoided. His bold call to restore such essentially normative notions as diat of reason to the center of philosophical debate remains only a program for coming philosophy, though indisputably a crucial one. Northern Illinois UniversityDavid Gorman Beyond Realism: Turgenev's Poetics ofSecular Salvation, by Elizabeth Cheresh Allen; viii & 255 pp. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992, $35.00. Whether you have read all, none, orjust one of Turgenev's novels, you have probably imbibed the same impression of his writing: carefully crafted prose, formally accomplished, stylistically sophisticated, featuring accurately sketched portraits ofnineteenth-century Russian social life, but with nothing in particular to say. In this thoughtful and necessary new book, Elizabeth Cheresh...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 358-359
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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