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192Philosophy and Literature Yet, even when it is couched injargon, I found her discussion generally clear and insightful, bringing fresh significance to familiar passages and plausible interpretations to unfamiliar ones. In fact, I find the book better for its comments on particular passages than for its totality, which seems somewhat simplistic and reductionist in its general thrust. (A postscript: There are a few typographical errors in the Greek [e.g., pp. 55, 153], which may be a source of momentary perplexity to at least some readers.) Whitman CollegeDavid Carey Hermeneutics and Critical Theory in Ethics and Politics, edited by Michael Kelly; xi & 285 pp. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990, $13.95 paper. Aristophanes' Socrates with his head in the clouds is the classical West's action pre-play of the perennial gripe: philosophy is out of touch with the real world. Twenty-two centuries later Kant's rump is the target of a Nietzschean barb in the same tradition of communication breakdown: Königsberg's self-appointed champion ofthe people against the scholars wrote in an idiom custom-designed for the scholar! Nietzsche's epigrammatic point-scoring and Aristophanes' burlesque each presume that philosophers should have their feet firmly on the ground. This is perhaps especially so in moral/political theory whose pivotal abstractions often seem far removed from the context in which we actively engage with the mundane realities of morals and politics. But that innocent "we" demands closer scrutiny, as this anthology—a dozen papers reprinted, with one addition, from a thematic double issue of The Philosophical Forum— demonstrates in diverse detail. The collection's intellectual backdrop is a hermeneutics enriched through interaction with Frankfurt School critical theory. Its idiom is rarely arcane and the authorial "we" is certainly not constituted by a partisan ideology. What the varied line-up of contributors share is a concern to explore nontrivial continuities between everyday and philosophical truths, situating the latter in sociohistorical contexts without falling prey to any genetic fallacy. Seyla Benhabib's account of discourse (communicative) ethics pinpoints its affinities with Rawls, and is usefully read in conjunction with editor Michael Kelly's comparative evaluation of Maclntyre and Habermas. Communicative ethics reinterprets Kantian universalizability, construed as the "silent thought Reviews193 experiment" (p. 2) of the individual self-legislator, to focus on the procedures that would be used by an ideal community to agree on the institutions which would best further its common interests. The overly narrow rationality of Kantian justification is broadened to admit affective factors in "discourses" in which "we exercise reversibility of perspectives" (p. 26), occasionally by literally listening to all involved or, more often, "by representing to ourselves imaginatively " their several standpoints in a counterfactual conversation. Michael Walzer, too, is interested in "philosophical conversations," those dialogues "constructed or designed" (p. 182) for terminal consensus, "one of the protagonists on his verbal knees, desperately searching for new ways to say yes" (p. 183). "Real talk" fails to achieve moral accord, hence his preference for "hypothetical conversations" which are discontinuous with real talk because crafted according to rules of "conversational design" (p. 184) which protect against inconclusiveness and dubiously motivated agreement, taking place in "asocial space." Rawls's veil of ignorance, Habermas's universalized internal constraints, even the good old state of nature, envisage idealized equals equally knowledgeable and impartial—and equally out of touch. Habermas puts his finger on an analogous discontinuity in Kohlberg's vain attempt to resolve the ethical dispute between consequentialists and deontologists by means of the "psycMogical assertion" (p. 34) that Kantiane have "structurally privileged access to their moral intuitions." The philosopher's task is, borrowing Walzer's idiom, to make the intuitive knowing of real talk articulate through the reflection peculiar to philosophical conversation. Habermas's contribution is reprinted from another MIT anthology and I was miffed not to have on-the-spot access to the companion pieces to which he makes reference. Morality on the ground is dual-purpose. Thejustice of equal moral respect for the equal political protection of individuals and their liberty has as its indispensable correlate what Habermas terms "solidarity," namely, "the welfare of consociates who are intimately linked in an intersubjectively shared form of life" (p. 47). Carol Gould...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 192-193
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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