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132Philosophy and Literature task for most contemporary readers or even critics ofthe plays. It has been far easier to read Johnson in digested form, in modern editions of the Preface or Notes. Tomarken shows us what we are missing by taking Johnson's critical commentary on Shakespeare out of its original context. He demonstrates that a full appreciation of the development of Johnson's interpretations emerges only from a reading ofhis agreements and disagreements with other eighteenthcentury editors, especially Warburton and Theobald as well as Dryden and Pope. Tomarken also observes thatJohnson's explanations have sometimes been appropriated by modern editors to serve their own very different interpretations . Throughout his study Tomarken reminds us that Johnson consistendy opposed altering Shakespeare's text, preferring to analyze and explain. But his analysis and commentary in the notes inform thejudgments in the "strictures" and more familiar Preface. Many of those 'judgments," of course, are moral judgments which, Tomarken demonstrates, are inherent in Johnson's procedure ; however, as he also points out, Johnson's judgment was informed by other factors as well, including his keen understanding of the interplay of literary, editorial, and dramatic goals. Tomarken remarks, for example, that "Johnson's insensitivity to dramatic performance has been exaggerated" (p. 76). Along the way he also reminds us that for Johnson, as for Shakespeare, we do best to try to recover and understand an author's words and procedures before we attempt our own interpretation or judgment. National Endowment for the HumanitiesMichael L. Hall The World of the Imagination: Sum and Substance, by Eva T. H. Brann; xiv & 810 pp. Savage, Maryland: Rowman and Litdefield, 1991, $75.00. Imagining takes up so much ofour mental life, yet so little ofthe "philosophy of mind," that Eva T. H. Brann calls it "the missing mystery of philosophy" (p. 3). Understandably so: How can the "mind's eye" look at itself? She undertakes to clarify if not to "solve" the mystery by examining six topics: the cognitive nature of the imagination, the psychological function of imagery, the logical status of the image, literary imagining, pictorial imaging, and the way imagination works in the world, i.e., in the practices of religion, politics, and private life. With Aristotelian deliberateness, Brann canvasses an extraordinary range of learned opinion without ever losing sight of commonsense opinion. (The book Reviews133 is "dedicated ... to the salvation of the obvious" [p. 5].) Her learning is so wide and her thoughtfulness so unflagging that her book at the very least can serve as a comprehensive reference work on each topic—as a guide to and of further study. But it is much more than that, as the sum of her erudition does not confuse the substance of her argument. In classical philosophy imagination is a faculty of the mind. Imagination is indispensable to cognition because images "have a middle status between the being proper to a form in matter and the being proper to a form that has come into the intellect through abstraction from matter" (p. 62). In its work of abstracting ideas from perceived materials, the intellect needs images. By contrast, according to Descartes and his successors, willing motivated by the passions is the preeminent attribute of the human mind. Imagination loses its function as an aid to understanding nature, and becomes an incitement to the conquest of nature. In Kant, for example, the human self is as hidden and unknowable as the Biblical God, and in its own way as creative—its mental faculties imposing forms upon appearances. Modern philosophy tends either toward dismissing imagination as useless for this constructive task (Locke, Hume, Rationalism generally) or, at the other extreme, exalting it above all other faculties (Romanticism). Modern psychology reflects this difficulty. Psychologists try to "extract measurable evidence" (p. 209) from interior experiences that are "behaviorally inaccessible and formalistically inarticulable" (p. 222). "Claiming that the brain imagines is like saying the mouth eats—a suggestive metonymical figure but not a sufficient account" (p. 266). Still, recent psychologists have turned up evidence that the imagination does indeed exist—a point denied by many of their predecessors. Brann's consideration of the relation of images to logic reinforces the psychologists ' discovery. She discusses Plato...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 132-134
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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