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238Philosophy and Literature Of the three interviews, the last and longest is perhaps the most interesting. The two interviewers try to bring Derrida to agree that there are fundamental affinities between deconstruction and dialectical materialism, hence, that Derrida is ultimately bound to concede a certain primacy to the Marxist categories of society, or matter, or the means of production. This solicitation Derrida naturally declines, indicating repeatedly (the interviewers are very dogged) that whatever texts of would-be materialism are cited—Hegel, Marx, Engels, Lenin—they will prove to be as deeply marked by traces of metaphysics as any overdy theological system. In its adversarial quality, this sparring match provides a quite vivid example of deconstructive method in action. The tbird dialogue is also particularly instructive in delineating Derrida's concept of the "double gesture" (p. 59) as the basis of deconstructive writing. The deconstructive act involves 1) a vigilant opposition to any system that would grant absolute or primary status to any term whatsoever, be it speech, writing, structure, history, sign, logos, text, being, meaning, self, and so forth, and 2) an equally vigilant insistence on the need to re-utilize these very terms of untenable ontology, theology, and metaphysics in order to generate new discourse . One recognizes that the "reinscribed" terms are at perpetual risk of relapsing into metaphysics, but are indispensable if critical discourse is to continue its activity. It is this generative, inventive side of deconstruction that simplifiers , both pro and con, often tend to ignore. The question arises of how the propagation of discourse can assume a positive value in Derrida's anti-system. He suggests at one point that its telos is pleasure: "There is produced a certain textual work that gives great pleasure" (pp. 6—7). Regrettably the interviewer fails to follow up on the hint of hedonism . It might have been informative to hear Derrida talk about the possible site and status of this effect of pleasure. As to the present Derridean text, it will assuredly give great pleasure, but chiefly to the already pleased. University of Michigan—DearbornNeil M. Flax Philosophical Style, edited by Berel Lang; xiii & 546 pp. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1980, $26.95. Contemporary philosophy is characteristically preoccupied with language, and if philosophers analyze and reflect upon language, then it would seem inevitable that they should turn their sights on the nature of philosophical language itself. Yet, as the editor ofPhilosophical Style says, "It is a continuing irony that in an age of philosophical self-consciousness philosophers have been largely indifferent to questions about their own means of expression" (p. 145). Berel Lang's anthology represents an effort to change this situation. Shorter Reviews239 Lang challenges the "dogma" that the style of expressing oneself in philosophy is philosophically irrelevant because style is only a technique for discovering something independent of the technique. The selections in his anthology illustrate views in which it is recognized that the form of presenting philosophy is integral to its substance. This is not to say that objectivity, or distance between a writer and what is written about, is not properly present in some philosophical writing. Lang's own typology of styles—which is the most explicidy relevant selection for Lang's purposes—includes a genre that turns on an impersonal stance on the part of the author. But Lang's point is that such a style, like all other types, is constitutive of what is said. Thus, his "largest purpose" is to show "through examples that the understanding of philosophical texts fairly demands consideration of their modes of presentation and of the way in which that presentation is linked to the meaning of the texts . . ." (p. x). The book has three main sections. The first, entitled, "Philosophers on the Writing of Philosophy," is chronological and includes passages from Plato through Merleau-Ponty. Each shows that its author was at least aware of the importance of the way philosophical views are presented for the content of the particular view. Each assumes that the task of all philosophers is to express themselves well. However, as a group, they show a progressive concern for the extent to which the writer creates the object of which he speaks. The second...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 238-239
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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