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378Philosophy and Literature Which is it? Is humanity in our person there commanding obedience to the categorical imperative in each of us, or not? 2.How does the apparent, albeit guarded, support of Kant comport with a generally instrumentalist conception ofmorality as serving the Hobbesian need for security? Siebers writes, "at the heart ofethics resides the overriding human desire to live in community with other people" (p. 13). But if that is so, then it is hard to make sense of Kant's emphasis on the duties of an isolated, finite rational will. 3.How much philosophy does Siebers know? There are no references to die major expositors and critics of Kant. Only Paton appears in the bibliography (not the index), and such figures as O'Neill, Hill, Nagel, Scanlon, Herman, Korsgaard, and Rawls appear nowhere. Perhaps this would not be a problem, if one could trust the formulations of Kant's views diat Siebers has putatively gleaned direcdy from Kant's texts. But this is not the case, since one finds outrageous claims like this: Kant "speaks as if there really were a concept of duty deriving from outside the sphere of willing" (p. 115). 4.There are significant stylistic problems in MoraU and Stories. Abstruse and nearuninteUigible pronouncement is frequentiy substituted for argument. Here are some all too typical sentences. "The modern age marks the end of philosophy , if only because our moral choices are now well rehearsed. The place of modern philosophy is one that we have seen before, with the difference that we have never before stood in a place where all the views are so familiar" (p. 135). "The ethic of otherness is often so and-Kantian in principle that it ends by being Kantian in practice. Similarly, its Aristotelianism is so severe that it is not always recognizably Aristotelian" (p. 144). "Ifa choice could be made, there would be no need for a decision, a decidere, a cutting. Decision involves the impossible and necessary task of cutting one thing that we want into one thing diat we can want and another thing we cannot want" (p. 202). And so on. It is hard to see how Siebers's thinking and prose would satisfy anyone who takes a serious interest in the problems that the book seeks to engage. Swarthmore CollegeRichard Eldridge Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, by Thomas Van Nortwick ; xiii 8c 204 pp. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, $29.95. Thomas Van Nortwick's tide raises the possibility of an approach reflective of a reworking of Heraclitus' metaphor which has intrigued such writers as Reviews379 Thoreau: not only do we not step into the same river twice, we never travel those very "somewheres" in which we are always present. His introduction, "Metaphors," suggests the character of this somewhere: "Everything in my approach follows from the assumption that the psychological or spiritual . . . dynamic the poets are dramatizing cannot be apprehended direcdy. . . . [P]oets create metaphors to describe something which is by nature mysterious, unknowable " (pp. 3^). In his afterword, "Metaphors Revisited," he formulates a reason for his own untraveled somewheres rather than those of the poets he has considered: "I might be reading my modern preoccupations into the texts, of course. This raises questions about why we read the poems to begin with, takes us into that middle ground between the hermetically sealed, historically bound worlds that scholars try to mine from the texts and the world all around any reader, messy, frayed at the edges, filtered through the gauzy veil of subjectivity" (p. 183). What lies between is an exploration of the nature of the heroic mind in three great epics: a chapter deals with Gilgamesh, two chapters with Iliad, three chapters with Aeneid. Broadly, the complexity of the metaphor is the characteristic which he has chosen as his fundamental concept; structurally , he creates a certain symmetry suggested by the particular number of chapters for each work; specifically, he is concerned with the heroic mind as it comes in contact with the elements of the hero's culture and with a "second self" or, again with thought to Thoreau, what he refers to in Waiden as a "certain doubleness by which I...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 378-380
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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