In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews383 world. Constitutive language, associated with literature, uses language in such a way as to shift and reorder its internal structure and relationships with the purpose of drawing attention to possible orderings of reality that are obscured when we take for granted the view of the world offered by the old constituted language. Constitutive language, therefore, is not about the world, but shows us something about language itself. This makes the intertextuality thesis easier to swallow, but how Derridean is it? Let us leave that to the scholars. More interesting is what happens when we use the offered distinction to account for the sense ofinsight we often get from a good passage in a novel or play. Here, interesting though the issue is, I did not find Harrison convincing. According to him, Shakespeare's depiction in Lear of the early altercation between Lear and Cordelia gets its power not from its vivid evocation of actual filial relationships as we know them, but from the way it makes us aware of new possible forms that the filial relationship might take. Itis hard to believe that, in feeling "convinced" by the scene, we are merely assenting to a possibility, rather than to the way the scene chimes in with our experience of families we have known. University of Cape TownPaul Taylor Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art, by Richard Shusterman; xii & 324 pp. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992, $49.95 cloth, $21.95 paper. Richard Shusterman says that he tested some of die issues in this book on the dance floor. In that light, recalling American Bandstand's straightforward system of reviews, I rate his book a 92 out of 100 possible points. It has good lyrics and you can dance to it. Following a somewhat self-indulgent autobiographical Preface that charts Shusterman's conversion to pragmatism and return to America, the book is divided into two major parts. Part I, "Pragmatism and Traditional Theory," consists offive chapters that situate, explicate, and defend pragmaust aesthetics. In the first chapter, "Placing Pragmatism," Shusterman contrasts Dewey's holistic , naturalistic pragmatism with the nonnaturalist, disinterested, compartmentalized , and dehistoricized aesthetics ofanalytic philosophers such as Moore, Macdonald, Hampshire, Strawson, Weitz, Dickie, Bell, Sibley, and others who define art as object rather than experience. This leads, in the second chapter, to a critical examination of philosophers' definitions ofart. Shusterman makes clear the practical futility ofthese projects, 384Philosophy and Literature and carefully demonstrates the theoretical and practical advantages of Dewey's reconstruction of art as experience. In the third and fourth chapters, Shusterman presents a pragmatic analysis of other concepts central to art: organic unity and representation. In the case of both notions, Shusterman views pragmatism as a promising middle ground between foundational analytic philosophy and deconstruction, both in aesthetics and in other areas of philosophy. He best demonstrates this promise by discussing diree supposedly pragmatic theories of interpretation—those of Fish, Rorty, and Knapp and Michaels. "These three leading pragmatist theories," Shusterman concludes, "in contrast to Dewey's, impoverish the domain of aesthetic experience by failing to recognize the value of non-professional responses which seek neither interpretive truth nor publishable novelty but simply enriched experience, experience which may perhaps be communicated in writing but does not need to be to count as legitimate and meaningful" (p. 114). This means that a pragmatist aesthetics must go beyond—or beneath—interpretation . Shusterman takes up this task in his fifth chapter, challenging "hermeneutic universalism," distinguishing interpretation from understanding, and concluding that "the ineffable but manifest is as much ordinary as mystical, and it is only mystifying to those disembodied philosophical minds who recognize no understanding other than interpretation, and no form of meaning and experience beyond or beneath the web of language" (p. 135). In Part II, "Rethinking Art," Shusterman turns from a defense ofpragmatism in theory to an illustration of pragmatism in practice. This may not seem important to theorists and academicjournal readers, but it amounts to nothing less than an attempt to provide a pragmaticjustification for pragmatism itself. Dewey wrote that a first-rate test of the value of any philosophy is the extent to which it renders ordinary life more significant, luminous, and fruitful. Can pragmatist aesthetics pass this test...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 383-385
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.