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202Philosophy and Literature ditions under which a person has this attitude. Interpretation is a holistic enterprise which involves such widespread agreement in judgments about truth and value between interpreter and interprétée that radical relativism (i.e., that which involves incommensurability) is impossible. Sometimes Davidson appears to be arguing not that an interpreter must attribute a basically similar conceptual scheme to whomever he interprets but that the distinction between a conceptual scheme, i.e., a framework ofprinciples which organize and structure, and something which is organized or structured (content, the world, experience, or sense data) is to be abandoned. In this mood he is one ofthe trio ofmajor deconstructors from within the analytic movement. The others are Willard Quine and Wilfred Sellars. Nicholas Wolterstorff's essay contains a description of this self-deconstruction and the alternatives of realism and pragmatism which resulted. He claims that the reason why philosophy of art and aesthetics were not central to the analytic movement was because "concepts " are not central to art whereas they were the chief interest of analysis. This seems rather ironic when one realizes how important concepts and conceptual schemes are to poststructuralist approaches to the arts. Some of the reason must lie in the analytic aesthetician's conviction that the "meaning of the arts" was not a matter of the signifying practices in a society, not a matter of social relations at all. The remaining five essays, by Roger Scruton,J. O. Urmson,Joseph Margolis, Anthony Savile, and Catherine Elgin and Nelson Goodman are all exemplifications of what analytical aesthetics has become today. They offer something for every taste. Elgin and Goodman advocate approaching works of art as symbols; Scruton discusses the meaning of music; Margolis argues for a continuing need for the discipline provided by analytical philosophy at its best. Something for (almost) every philosophical taste is just what this collection provides. It is an excellent reflection ofthe position ofanalytic aesthetics within the contemporary intellectual scene. Victoria University, WellingtonIsmay Barwell The Idea ofthe Renaissance, by William Kerrigan and Gordon Bradley; xiii & 261 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, $27.95. Kerrigan and Bradley have written a good, even a courageous, book. Well aware of the theorists' hostility to "period," they have bravely constructed a "new history of ideas." Their concept of period is a matter of a confluence of Reviews203 perspectives rather than a succession of anxious influences. Basic to their idea of period are two insights: first, there is a sense of a "new seriousness" and self-consciousness in the air; second, similar things go on among philosophers, poets, politicians, and lovers—not causing each other so much as reflecting and "refracting." Basic to their "idea of the Renaissance" is Burckhardt's notion of individualism. It is gratifying to see Burckhardt's driving formulation refined, sophisticated, and applied to England, distinguished by a Reformation which moderated the tendency of individualism to tear itself apart by isolating the individual or tyrannizing over people, states, and ideas. To capture the panorama of thought, the authors examine Nicolas of Cusa, Ficino, Pico, and Descartes, not as dominating forces but as representatives of a world view that appears and reappears from Petrarch through Milton. In the first three philosophers there emerges a neo-Platonism that, oddly true to Burckhardt, is not so much a rebirth of the classics as it is a picking up and sorting out of the muddled pieces of late Hellenism and early Christianity. The Renaissance did revive the classics, but more importantly breathed new energy into the chaos of classical decline. The Idea of the Renaissance has value if only for the thoughtful treatment of thinkers who generally survive through vague references rather than careful reading. The chapter on Descartes, more technical and obscure, still is able to find in the cogito an invitation to recreate the self that fits his predecessors' view that man is the only creature who fashions its own essence. That essence is in striving, first to know and then to do in politics, literature, and sex. We are promised that the "idea" will be put to the test of practical criticism in the last two chapters on lyric poetry and Paradise Lost...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 202-204
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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