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Reviews167 Dummett on language and interpretation. Gaipa and Scholes, in ajoint paper, voice significant worries about Davidson's position on metaphor and on conceptual schemes. The philosophical commentators, in an interesting trio of papers, find common ground between Davidson and theorists who may be thought to hold views radically opposed to his. Indeed, Wheeler urges that Davidson and Derrida are no further apart, philosophically, than Plato and Aristotle. (Fischer wonders whether Davidsonians or Derrideans will be more dismayed by the news.) The volume concludes with an original contribution by Davidson extending his work on language, interpretation, and intention to themes in literary interpretation. The essay, "Locating Literary Language," is typical ofDavidson's work: it is engaging, provocative, insightful, and—like much good "analytic" philosophy—elegandy written. This volume will contribute to the decline of the sentiment—most common among those having the least familiarity—that "analytic" philosophy has little to offer scholars working in other areas. Davidson CollegeAlfred R. Mele The Imagination ofReference: Meditating the Linguistic Condition , by Edouard Morot-Sir; 172 pp. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993, $24.95. This book contains five "Meditations" that purport to show how received ideas about the nature oflanguage have prevented us from realizing that to exist is to refer to, that "reference is the way of being as well as being ¿s the way of reference" (p. 145). From the start, Morot-Sir's reexamination of reference is an avowedly interdisciplinary enterprise, situated "at the crossroads of at least four distinctive and required competencies: history of philosophy, present theories oflanguage, literary criticism, and, last but not least, linguistics" (p. 4) . Morot-Sir does sprinkle allusions to (mostly Francophone) literary texts and figures; however, we find sustained analysis of the referential dimensions of literary texts only on pages 86—93 and 150-53. Hence the book may be less useful to literary theorists than the author's preparatory remarks would at first lead us to believe. More generally, the chief strength of The Imagination of Reference is also its weakness: the interdisciplinary outlook of the book, its attempt to make a synoptic survey of ideas drawn from linguistics, philosophy, and literary studies in discussing the dynamics of reference, gives way in the end to a methodological eclecticism as provocative as it is piecemeal. Meditation One, "Walking through the Linguistic Narthex," acknowledges 168Philosophy and Literature the broadly Cartesian inspiration of the book: "when I speak of meditation, I refer to a typical philosophical fonguage, a linguistic writing process, not a psychological behavior" (p. 8). The first Meditation also contains a series of "caveats" designed to circumvent "methodological quandaries and intricacies" (pp. 9ff.) that Morot-Sir detects in the treatment of reference by various philosophers of language (Wittgenstein, Davidson, and Harman); linguists (Bréal, Meillet, Saussure, Benveniste, Martinet, and Chomsky); and, at least implicidy, literary authors (Flaubert, Proust, Breton). This first Meditation also includes a potentially misleading section on "The Ambiguous Concept of Natural Languages" (pp. 23-32). Here Morot-Sir seems to conflate, or at least does not sufficiently warn us against conflating, (1) Romantic ideas about the origins and evolution of language vis-à-vis cultures and nations (à la Herder) , with (2) the more recent and much less ontologically loaded distinction between formalized languages, on the one hand, and nonformalized ("natural ") languages, on the other hand. The next three Meditations concern the different profiles assumed by the problem of reference according to whether one adopts a realist, idealist, or instrumentalist perspective on language, respectively. Each of diese Meditations has the word uncapping'm its tide (e.g., "Uncapping the Realist Condition and Its Philosophies"), and Morot-Sir tells us that the term "Uncappingdoes not designate an epistemological metaphor; it aims at a real experience in writing. I cannot properly describe it; I can only ask my reader to become conscious of it when, with me, he or she relives the referring condition" (p. 38). The author's quasi-existential definition of uncappingma.de this reviewer uneasy. In fact, over the course of his analysis Morot-Sir frequently, and as a rule unconvincingly, argues by appeal to the reader's experience (cf. especially pp. 131-37). Given that Morot-Sir ultimately proposes to interdefine...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 167-169
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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