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134Philosophy and Literature and reviews in journals, and this may explain why die book displays an odd combination ofdeliberate precision and haste. In its original site, each essay or commentary doubtless functioned effectively. But brought together here, they are at once valuable and incomplete, in need of another set of claims and alternatives that McCarthy has not furnished. Wellesley CollegeWilliam E. Cain The Tao and the Logos: Literary Hermeneutics, East and West, by Zhang Longxi; xix & 239 pp. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992, $37.00 cloth, $16.95 paper. Zhang Longxi's recent comparative study of Chinese and Western hermeneutics signals a key development in both contemporary literary theory and cultural studies. As a Chinese scholar and comparativist, Zhang examines Western poets such as Shakespeare, Mallarmé, and Rilke as well as theorists like Foucault, Derrida, and de Man. Unlike many contemporary theorists, however, who have advocated an almost absolute concept of difference, Zhang makes a case instead for hermeneutic understanding (and interpretive pluralism) through demonstrating how many themes and concerns of Chinese poetics parallel and predate recent developments in Western literary theory. By relying on philosophers like Heidegger and Gadamer, Zhang advocates the "universality of the hermeneutic phenomenon," or the Heideggerian argument that "the hermeneutic phenomenon is ontologically constitutive of human life" (p. ix); and he soundly criticizes what he perceives in the West as a "totalizing discourse of consensus" that categorically denies the possibility of sameness (p. 191). Among other theorists, Foucault and Derrida are both criticized by Zhang for evoking a mythical, non-Western Other that is absolutely unknowable, merely to facilitate Western self-knowledge and self-critique (p. xvii). Zhang's critique of Derrida is particularly refreshing in its suggestion that "the metaphysical hierarchy of thinking, speech, and writing exists not only in the West but in the East as well" (p. 30). For Zhang then, logocentricism is not simply a Western phenomenon, as Derrida and many others have suggested, but is instead constitutive of the very way of thinking itself. Zhang makes a strong case in this regard through demonstrating the remarkable similarities between the traditional Chinese understanding of the tao and Western logocentricism. In other words, just as the divine Logos is ultimately ineffable or inexpressible, or that which escapes linguistic articulation, the tao in Chinese poetics is also that which "transcends dimension, language, and comprehension" (p. 53) . Zhang concludes that "there is no reason why Plato Reviews1 35 should not be considered as in harmonious company with Laozi in the contemplation of logos or the tad" (p. 29). Furthermore, both of these philosophers and the traditions they represent exhibit a marked suspicion of written speech in favor of a pure "inner speech" that is both immanent and transcendent. Besides offering insightful readings into poets such as Mallarmé and Rilke, Zhang's study may also serve as a concise and accessible introduction to Chinese poetics and poetry. His approach, however, is synchronic rather dian diachronic, or he organizes his material thematically rather than historically. Not least among the merits in this strategy is that, while tracing points of commonality between Chinese and Western traditions, he does not collapse important distinctions which separate these traditions. In short, at a time when many critics and theorists have proclaimed the impossibility of cultural comparison, Zhang provides a sensitive and theoretically coherent alternative to the Derridean and poststructuralist hegemony of pure difference. His method is balanced and persuasive, as is his plea for interpretive pluralism and tolerance. Central Oregon Community CollegeChristopher Wise Daimon Life: Heidegger and Life-Philosophy, by David F. Krell; 350 pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992, $18.95. The grief reactions which followed the Heidegger and de Man scandals comprise a microgenre of academic discourse in which the rhetorical commonplaces associated with developments in the wider field come close to caricaturing themselves in a kind of amourfou. On the one hand, postmodern philosophy cannot be earnest, else risk seeming "metaphysical"; on the other hand, silence is impossible after Heidegger because it suggests complicity. Irony, self-deprecation, a moving surface of intertextual citation—David Krell offers his readers a smattering of the above, even while pursuing a fundamental line of access to Heidegger's work. It is a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 134-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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