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Reviews161 any given text. But what about the authority of the demystifying analysis itself? What about the play of the interpreter's tropes? De Man, as I read him, is willing to let the matter stand as a paradox: he conceived of his own work as both "rigorous" and "unreliable." Norris seems to require more stability. He points to a passage—uncharacteristic of de Man as I see it—in which de Man claims that Nietzsche "earns the right" to his definitive pronouncements by virtue of the "considerable labor of deconstruction that makes up the bulk of his more analytical writings." Does this, though, add up to anything more than an attempt to confer cultural authority of a rather absolute sort on a writer with whom one agrees? So Norris, throughout his book, wants to extend a similar sort of authority to de Man. But this is far from the spirit of deconstruction , which demands that one continually read and question, rather than naturalizing or mythologizing, one's own tropes. Thus a book that begins as a defense of deconstructive rigor, and the interminable activity of subversive interpretation, settles into an exercise in cultural politics. The spirit ofde Man's work is one of ever more scrupulous ascetic denial. Attempts to enlist de Man in any positive program, even attempts as honorable and intelligent as Norris's, are probably fated to be undermined by no one more insistendy than by Paul de Man himself. University of VirginiaMark Edmundson Locke and the Scrihlerians: Identity and Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Britain, by Christopher Fox; ? & 174 pp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, $25.00. In 1714, the Scriblerians, a gang of Tory intellectuals and políticos got together for evenings of conviviality and literary fun. An invitation to Oxford (the Lord High Treasurer) ran thus: "For Frolick Mirth give ore affairs of State/To night be happy, be tomorrow great" (p. 81). The fun consisted in making fun—of the disputes, pretensions, and pedantry of other intellectuals, both the disciples of Locke and the remaining scholastics. The Scriblerians concocted a Memoir of one Martinus Scriblerus, a fictitious scholar and controversialist , in which the philosophic debates of the day were satirized. Many years later (1741) one of their number—Alexander Pope—published their proceedings. But the Memoirs of Scriblerus are difficult to understand without some knowledge of the debates at which they were directed. Fox's object is to supply such knowledge, and in the process to illuminate the eighteenth-century conception of the self. For the debates in question were largely concerned with personal identity, an issue raised by Locke. 162Philosophy and Literature Locke rejected sameness of (immaterial) substance as a criterion for personal identity and proposed instead the link of consciousness. B is the same person as A if B can remember doing what A did, and B will be die same person as C if C can remember B's doings—and remember them from Ae inside, so to speak. Fox thinks that "we" are so used to the self-in-consciousness that we underestimate its novelty. Locke's contemporaries did not. Hence "the great noise" about "this individuality" (p. 2). Fox describes the noise-makers: the disputes, disputants, and the puzzle-cases. A philosopher interested in personal identity can usefully skim Fox for arguments and puzzle-cases that might repay further study. And it is interesting to see such luminaries as Perry, Parfit, and Lewis anticipated. The Clarke/Collins debate and the case of the Siamese twins are singled out. Both are sent up in the Memoirs. Martinus (playing Clarke) corresponds with the Secretary ofthe Society ofFree Thinkers (playing Collins). The Secretary contends (1) that there is no soul; (2) that consciousness can inhere in whole organisms in virtue of their mechanical composition (though elsewhere he favors the brain); (3) that changes in the material substance of the brain are no bar to continuity of consciousness since "the power of thinking ... is communicated from every particle to its immediate successor" (p. 105). Further, he concedes that an individual is a sequence of selves linked together by continuity ofconsciousness rather than one self. For though I remember what I did last...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 161-162
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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