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Reviews205 etiological one proposed. Fischer says that his topic is not Cavell's view of skepticism (p. 8), but the skepticism present in deconstruction. So he should have brought in other views of skepticism. He notes that there may be "other forms of skepticism that do not mesh so well with contemporary theory" (p. 9), but I would instead say that other forms of skepticism do not mesh so well with his explanation of deconstruction. My own suggestion is that an historical perspective would be helpful. Fischer mentions Cavell's remark that different intellectual traditions separate him from Derrida (p. 125), but the connection he makes between deconstruction and skepticism "indicates spiritual affinity more than intellectual indebtedness" (p. 37). Skepticism in the Anglo-American tradition from which Cavell comes is usually not taken seriously. The utilitarian response to skepticism proposed by Cavell-Fischer—"we are sure enough" for practical purposes—is particular to the Anglo-American tradition in which, backed by a philosophy ofcommon sense, it is indeed regarded as the "natural" response. On the other hand, the continental tradition behind Derrida and de Man does take the skeptical challenge and the quest for certainty seriously. The claim that the Anglo-American rather than the European way of dealing with skepticism is the natural (p. 135) or human (p. 123) one needs further justification . To allege that it is the response consistent with our finitude does not solve the matter. Why do we have to be content with half-truths, probabilities, and educated guesses, in a word, with our finitude? French philosophers such as Descartes and Pascal who deal with skepticism have arguments which vindicate the quest for certainty as a genuine human aspiration. Finally, die appeal to psychological explanations in cases where epistemological reasons are lacking is to argue ad hominem. For example, in dealing with de Man, Fischer says that he is "trying here not so much to answer de Man as to indicate the level such a response must eventually explore, that level being his deep disdain for human intercourse" (p. 101). Washington UniversityJosé R. Maia Neto Machiavelli in Hell, by Sebastian de Grazia; 497 pp. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1989, $39.95. "For some time up to now I never say what I believe, nor believe what I say, and even if sometimes the truth is told me, I hide it among so many lies that it is difficult to find it again." So wrote Machiavelli to Francesco Guicciardini in 1521. "As the teller of tales, the matchmaker, the ghostwriter, the dramatist mounting the boards himself, the deviser of solemn public ceremonies, the 206Philosophy and Literature advocate of a statecraft of imposture and faithbreaking, the military expert discoursing on deceptions and spies, the inventor ofhistorical speeches, equaling those of Thucydides" (p. 364), Machiavelli relendessly schooled himself in the arts of dissimulation. Whether identifying himself as "Machiavegli," or "Maclavellus," or "Machiavello," or "Maclavello," the man we call Machiavelli deliberately sabotaged all attempts to know who he was. Mixing biographical material with translations of unpublished correspondence , imaginary dialogues, reproductions of Renaissance paintings, etc., Sebastian de Grazia argues that so long as he served as secretary to the Second Chancery of Florence, "Niccolo had no problem identifying himself" (p. 364). But die republic's fall in 1512, followed by his imprisonment and exile, "left him doubting he was Niccolo" (p. 240). Excusing his meager correspondence, Machiavelli tells his nephew of his condemnation to a purgatory in which he can no longer find himself. "But being reduced to staying in the villa for the adversities I had had and [still] have, I stay sometimes a month without recognizing myself" (p. 47). Machiavelli's struggle to recraft an identity through his writing generates "no tight system, but a generous field of view" (p. 240). His own location upon that field is best revealed by the Prince's call for expulsion of Italy's foreign invaders. Out of the rubble of his own roodessness, Machiavelli fashions a new identity for Italy through his appeal to that lonely creature of fortune, the new prince. Expressing the estrangement of his creator, that figure learns how to treat the qualities of selfhood as detachable instruments...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 205-207
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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