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182Philosophy and Literature pared with the depth and scope of Cascardi's argument (and related considerations from Stephen David Ross), other definitions of the "modern" and "postmodern" can seem rather epiphenomenal, even opportunistic. These tend to look towards the vaguer, more conventional (but totally distinct) understanding of modernism as that event in the fine arts, architecture, and literature that dates from about the turn of this century. One exception to this dichotomy between die "philosophical" and the "artistic" accounts of the modern, as one might label them, is Edward Casey's thoughtful essay on architecture and philosophy. This distinguishes itself in working through a post-Heideggerian conception of metaphysics and questions of aesthetic form (the complex relation between the architectural and philosophical notions of "place, form, and identity"). In parts of the "literature" section, however, the precise philosophical conception of the subject becomes really little more than that lax literary critical notion, "the self," in a fashionable garb. Mention should be made of two essays which, while they make litde effort to engage explicitly or at length with the question of the "postmodern," stand out in their own right. Richard Shusterman's " 'Ethics and Aesthetics Are One' " is refreshing both in dealing with questions of ethics and with the work of Bernard Williams. Gerald Bruns gives a lucid account of Heidegger and questions ofthe language of philosophy, albeit one that does insufficientjustice to the strict discipline at work in Heidegger's transformations of language. One practical point to emerge in this collection is how useful it could have been for each contributor to have seen drafts of the other papers before things were finalized. As the collection stands, a fascinating debate between various and fundamentally differing conceptions of the "postmodern" (mainly but not only that debate suggested here) has to be largely projected and worked through by the reader in the jump from one isolated textual presentation to the next. University of DurhamTimothy Clark Situation and Human Existence: Freedom, Subjectivity and Society, by Sonia Kruks; 215 pp. London: Unwin Hyman, 1990, $15.95. In 1981 Sonia Kruks published TL· Political Phibsophy of Merleau-Ponty. Her Situation and Human Existence retraces Merleau-Ponty's theory of worldbound engagement and lived corporeity in the full context of the existential tradition Reviews183 of situational theory which, as Kruks makes clear, owed as much to Bergson and Gabriel Marcel as Husserl and Heidegger. Kruks provides separate chapters on Marcel, the Sartre of Being and Nothingness, Simone de Beauvoir, MerleauPonty , and the Sartre of Critique ofDiahcticalReason. Her focus is on those issues in existence philosophy which pertain to politically situated life, individual and social institutional life. In keeping with the admirable goal of this Unwin Hyman series to inform a non-specialist audience of current issues in continental thought, Kruks writes in a crisp, explanatory manner and provides many quotations from primary sources, allowing the reader to experience first-hand the philosophic imagery of Marcel, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Merleau-Ponty. The works of Marcel anticipated Heidegger's insights into technological nihilism , explored the range of an evocative discourse which expresses the preobjective continuum of self and elemental world, and elaborated a theory of embodiment which Marcel called une philosophie concrète. Yet Kruks finds that Marcel's fear of reification gready reduced the possibilities of social existence beyond I-Thou dynamics. Instead of elaborating the tactics of interaction and political commitment for individuals and groups at an institutional level, Marcel called for a "stronger spiritual life" (p. 39). "Emphasizing the possibility of maintaining an 'inner' spiritual purity in the face of extreme dehumanization," Kruks says, "Marcel's views amounted to the claim, against Sartre and MerleauPonty , that it is possible after all to have 'clean hands' in any situation" (p. 40). Although Marcel openly contested Sartre's atheism, of the figures treated by Kruks the early Sartre is most akin to Marcel insofar as he endorses a radical subjectivity of consciousness before which even the body is subordinate. Sartre further advanced the concept of situated freedom and revised Heidegger's theory ??Mitsein, or intersubjectivity, into a structure of conflict. But this structure also delimited the possibilities of the "politics of solidarity" (p. 73). It...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 182-184
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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