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Shorter Reviews115 of totally reader-oriented response or solipsism (as in a reader for whom More's "Utopus" sounds like "octopus"); the hard work of the method for the student, and its uncoached naturalness. (Delusions intrude when he finds his own words parroted in one response, but he takes this to be "more authentic than compliant "—p. 210). The theory is uninteresting, especially its grounding in a misreading of Thomas Kuhn, reverentially and frequently cited. Bleich reads into Kuhn a supposed isomorphism between the history of science and the history of taste, trivializing both. In point of fact, the easy, undergraduate relativism of Bleich's theory is contradicted by essential but ignored ideas of Kuhn, who rejects a simplistic dichotomy between objectivity and subjectivity, warns against attributing to personal biography all scientific progress, and explicitly respects "concrete achievements," corrigible theory, and "the test of time." Consider the following nested confusions: "the greatness of Shakespeare ... is ... in principle , as ephemeral as the absolute truth of Newton's laws of motion" (p. 165). But Newton's law still works (as any student of high school physics can show); it is no more "ephemeral" than is a rough description of France's shape as "hexagonal ." Bleich defines "objective paradigm" spectacularly as the belief that "all people perceive things in the same way" (p. 295). Relevant villains are trotted out one by one: New Critics, logical positivists, behaviorists, science before modern physics, religion, quantification, the "idea of progress," definers of genres and periods, prescribers of "great books" (incredibly linked to the practice of censorship), and traditional university education . Most teachers, we are told, believe that "older is better" (p. 284). Would anyone say that? Then I shall: Older is always better—which I can prove by citing something old and good, a medieval scholastic axiom that fails to fit Bleich's sterotyped past: "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." The saints of the book are, like the stock sub-demons, predictable, and all is earnestly presented in a style surprisingly unexpressive and objective. But let me be unfair. Try meditating silently on the odd style of the following minor sentence by Bleich, with its superfluous qualification: "Mr. P appeared to me an intelligent, personable, well-dressed, mature student" (p. 138, italics added). If you do, a vision of the problem with Mr. B's book will be revealed to you: at least it seems so to me. Kansas State UniversityDonald K. Hedrick Reflection, Time and the Novel: Towards a Communicative Theory ofLiterature, by Angel Medina; vii & 143 pp. London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, $17.50. Angel Medina offers a philosophical discussion of the concept of reflection and its relevance to illuminating the novel conceived as a semantics of desire. 116Philosophy and Literature Drawing upon existential psychoanalysis, contemporary hermeneutics, and their refinements, the goal of Medina's reflective ontology is to counter rationalism which, he argues, is plagued by the deconstructionist syndrome. Rationalism in its various versions employs categories of thought and language which limit it to a few logical or psychological operations. He examines the origin and changes in the meaning and function of reflection in Western thought and then discusses some of the works of Dr. Johnson, Kierkegaard, and Georges Poulet. The philosophical meaning of reflection, from its earliest beginnings, has had three implications. Reflection means contemplative life, removed from the immediacy and uncertainty of the passions. It designates that self-transparency of the soul which discloses the essential stability of the inner, subjective life; when the idea of the soul lost its credibility, reflection came to stand for introspection . Finally, reflection is conceived as an operation proceeding from insight, an operation which focuses on concepts and the relations among concepts . Medina, then, argues that philosophers from Plato to Heidegger tend to separate the expressive dimension from that of consciousness and end by conceiving the world in "rational," discursive modes of human thought. He proposes , in contrast, a hermeneutics of reflection which would unite expressiveness with life. This hermeneutics is non-formal in nature and insists on the importance of the difference between sincerity and bad faith, between choice and fate. The difference emerges in projects of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 115-117
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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