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Reviews361 might weU be empirical (diat Hamlet, as student, is a great talker) radier than the necessary contradiction that Calderwood assumes. A simUar criticism applies to die central chapter, where a concern for murder as a sexual act seems almost arbitrarily placed on Macbeth because die writer now wishes to write on diat play rather dian on, say, Othello. If diere were to be a criticism of the critic, it would be of a decline in ambition , from die sharp perceptions oĆ­ Shakespearean Metadrama dirough die niceties of language, in particular naming and metaphor, in intervening studies to what is, in some profound essentials, a fairly plain post-Freudian reading of die text in this latest book. Nor is Calderwood much concerned to envisage the play, and draw his aesthetics from that picture. Calderwood's work over two decades is, unfortunately, a microcosm of die subjection of material to the inner logic of critical taste, diat at times places itself firmly in line for the increasingly ridiculous category of a renascent scholasticism: e.g., "This making 'somediing nodiing by augmenting it' sounds radier like Jacques Derrida's concept of die 'supplement' ā€” diat is, an excess added to a sufficiency, but paradoxicaUy, because its presence implies a prior insufficiency, also a replacement of a lack" (p. 57). The accompanying n. 22, for aU its apparent humor, prompts a Shakespearian consideration on a condition perhaps arising from a similar predisposition : "Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!" An example, one might reluctantly hazard, of Shakespearean metacriticism. University of AucklandG. K. H. Ley The Philosophical Disenfranchisement ofArt, by Arthur C. Danto; xvi & 210 pp. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986, $24.00. The seven at times quite closely related essays coUected here were aU originaUy prepared as lecture presentations, and they very much exemplify this form of writing at its best. The central concern is making sense of recent art and art history, and doing so against the idea that art has in some genuine way actuaUy "come to an end of its history." It is to Danto's credit that he offers a version of this familiar accusation that is both plausible and non-trivial. Along die way a great many other subjects come in for some attention too: the nature of interpretation , what is and is not a matter of "convention," how we ought to assess die claims made by deconstructionists concerning die "equivalence" of philosophy and literature, and Danto's handling of diese subjects ā€” subde, in- 362Philosophy and Literature teUigent, direct ā€” never faUs. To read Danto on any topic in philosophical aesthetics is invariably to emerge with one's sense of that topic enlarged. How is Danto's "end of art thesis" to be understood? That art has a history of some kind is obvious; how diis history is to be described is not. Croce's ahistorical account of art as expression arose precisely because a once seemingly unchaUengeable "progressive" account of art's history, art as die gradual "conquest of natural appearances" became, suddenly, utterly untenable before the sort of art produced after impressionism. But as Danto shrewdly observes, ifexpressionism succeeds because it offers a general account of aU art, this is also its faUure. Any such general account must find it puzzling, ifnot inexplicable, why die history of art has generated a sequence of aestiietic movements, each one of which "seemed to require some kind of theoretical understanding to which the language and psychology of emotions seemed less and less adequate" (p. 108). Clearly, self-consciousness about the history ofart and how one might plausibly continue in that history has shaped artistic production in the deepest way in die modern era. Yet how is diis history to be described? Danto looks to Hegel for die appropriate model: tiie history ofart is a history "pursuing the question ofits own identity," each new movement "raising die question afresh, offering itselfas a possible final answer." Art's history is then die dialectical history ofprogressive self-understanding through its own dieories, ending, as such dialectics do, in a final stage of self-transcendence: art becomes "absorbed ultimately into its own phUosophy ... so that virtuaUy aU there is at the end is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 361-362
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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