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252Philosophy and Literature Dante or Augustine or Aquinas), seeking only to determine the structures of the various forms of poetry and thereby abrogating the aesthetic relevance of the question of truth. From analysis of the basic features of ancient aesthetics, Murray proceeds to a brief but effective commentary on what he calls the modern critical tradition: I. A. Richards, the New Critics, the Chicago Critics, and what are termed the "Old Critics." Ultimately it is the "New Hermeneutic" which Murray suggests will rectify the shortcomings of the critical tradition which he has been at pains to elucidate. And it is this strategic move which attempts the rapprochement between phenomenological theory and critical act. The third and final section of the text is devoted to an exposition of the central concepts of the "New Hermeneutic" and to augmenting the proposition that contemporary phenomenology provides the focus on the linguistic character of art (poetry) essential to the redemption of modern criticism. It is a sweepingand inclusive argument, ideologically motivated by the author's strong desire to demonstrate the crucial relevance of phenomenology to the critical act. While we may not be willing to concur that the bridge has been solidly built, the relevance has surely been demonstrated. This is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that Murray does a very good job of explaining the phenomenological concept of language and its importance —thereby demonstrating the comparative paucity of our own American empirical notions of the meanings of "linguistic." He also does an excellent job of commenting on and interpreting the critical and theoretical ideas of a number of European writers who are, for the most part, either unaccessible or ignored in this country. Thus the book becomes in itself a valuable manual which could be used as an introduction to hermeneutic phenomenology. It should be read on the strength of its thesis, but it will be reread on the strength of its careful and informative analysis of the tradition in which it stands. It may well have the effect Mr. Murray hopes for—the leavening of our criticism with the yeasty (and heady) blends of European phenomenology. Emory UniversityLaurence L. Alexander Cultural Thematics: The Formation of the Faustian Ethos, by T. K. Seung; pp. xviii & 283. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976, $16.50. Professor Seung's previous books on Dante and Kant prepared the way for this present work. How did European culture make the passage from the medieval awareness of divine significance in all things human to the modern ensconcement of man quite totally in his own literally construed thoughts and deeds? This is a question about the struggle involved in transforming the primary themes pervading an entire cluster of disciplines. The issues are so Shorter Reviews253 complex that Seung wisely confines himself here to the initial phase represented by Dante and Petrarch, Boccaccio and Duns Scotus. But once the shift is fully underway, it provides the conditions under which modern science and philosophy can develop. We are brought at least within hailing distance of the new cosmology and the Kantian-Hegelian immanent analysis of the categories of science and society. To control his account of the transition from transcendent theocentrism to immanent anthropocentrism, the author develops a method of cultural thematics. This he defines as "the investigation of the thematic pattern of a given culture. In this thematic approach, a cultural tradition is conceived of as a constant interplay of existential themes or motifs, in analogy to a dramatic production or a musical composition" (p. x). The existential projects arise within a particular historical and linguistic matrix, but they conflict with prevalent structures and thus lead to some new cultural resolution of forms and contexts. It would be interesting to compare this general view with that expressed in Ernst Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms, which is also very much alive to the forms of sensibility embodied in language and historically developing cultural contexts. Instead, Seung makes broad use of Wittgenstein's view of language as life form, and puzzlingly offers to make Heidegger more aware of the historicist and culture-bound traits of his phenomenology. The modern turn toward immanentism involves a wrenching of sensibility...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 252-253
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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