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228Philosophy and Literature volvement. "The poem or fiction . . . gives us the truth of, or the truth behind, the world which we ordinarily inhabit. It takes us to where the real life of that world lies; or as D. H. Lawrence said of the novel, 'it can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead' " (pp. 113—14). Hence poets are, in the phrase ofShelley's thatis the leitmotifofFalck's book, "the unacknowledged legislators of the world" (p. 78). Taken as theory, the development of these Romantic conceptualizations of subject and object is sound and convincing. Falck moves easily through both German and English sources, both philosophical and literary, in developing his tiiemes, all the while developing careful criticisms of recent French and American literary theory that has been influenced by Saussure. In virtue of its compelling arguments, Myth, Truth and Literature is a book that might well do some good in changing the current drift of literary theory and in reinvigorating literary work. It deserves a wide audience. But, despite die compelling character of its arguments, Myth, Truth and Literature also might well fail to have its intended effect, and this should lead us to rethink its achievement. The cultural world is both Balkanized and overwhelmingly influenced by the surrounding commodity culture. In this setting, could any intellectual argument—no matter how sound—by itselfopen up new possibilities of more coherent theory and practice? It seems unlikely. And if that is so, then perhaps it is not so open to poets to remake our world and restructure our involvements as Falck suggests. What is needed in order to develop the argument ofMyth, Truth and Literature further is not more theory— the theory Falck presents is sound—but more direct poetic work that brings currendy marginal practical involvements closer to the center of culture. To say this is to endorse Falck's general argument but also to wish that it had been more concretely developed in relation to specific present poetic particulars (Raymond Carver? Peter Handke? William Gaddis?). It is to be hoped that this concrete development is something that Falck himself, and now others, will have it in mind to complete. Swarthmore CollegeRichard Eldridge Philosophers ofConsciousness, by Eugene Webb; ix & 342 pp. Seatde: University of Washington Press, 1988, $30.00. This is one of those rare books that employs the tools of scholarship, not as a self-contained exercise, but as a means of uncovering the truth about man and his place in reality. No doubt it is unfashionable and vulnerable to the Reviews229 charge of naïveté to endorse such an approach. We are inclined to smile at the suggestion that scholarship is in search of the truth, so accustomed are we to the debilitatingcritiques thatrob intellectualinquiryofits confidence ofpurpose. But it is refreshing to encounter a book that reminds us of the higher calling of scholarship. For even though we may have difficulty defining what we mean by truth, or determining the criteria by which it is to be measured—as Eugene Webb would be the first to agree—we cannot abandon the quest for knowledge as the fullest expression ofour openness to reality. To do so not only condemns our scholarship to irrelevance, but impoverishes our human existence as well. Webb's latest book, Philosop^s of Consciousness, addresses the issue at the heart of our contemporary historical situation. We live in a world in which the spiritual traditions that had sustained its order have become opaque. The only possibility of recovering their meaning is through a process of rediscovery. Attention must be redirected from the symbols, ideas, and doctrines of the various traditions, to their prior experiential foundations within consciousness. It is this concern with the ultimate existential source of order in consciousness itself, that has been the driving force behind the modern search for a philosophy of consciousness. Webb's book is a formidable and illuminating contribution to this investigation. He explores the philosophy of consciousness through the writings of six figures: Polanyi, Lonergan, Voegelin, Ricoeur, Girard, and Kierkegaard. The chapters devoted to each ofthem follow the order suggested by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 228-230
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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