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292Philosophy and Literature metaphysical dialectics of Marcuse, Adorno, and Sartre, and by using it to undermine Lacan's "phallocentrism" and "semiocentrism," and Habermas's ideal speech/communication dieory. In this Marxist/deconstructionist light, Ryan interprets Capital: he insists on die interpénétration ("differentiality") of politics and economics, and rejects necessary ("decidable") historical laws. Ryan also examines Lenin's systematic misreading of Marx, where decentralized communism becomes the basis for statism, oppression, and transcendent trudis. Ryan applies this Marxist/deconstructionist theory to many contemporary issues. He considers ideological elements in everyday views of terrorism, feminism, liberalism, human rights, social planning, credit, and foreign policy. He criticizes traditional views of academic freedom, disciplinary study, and die relation of American education to business, and offers suggestions for "radical teachers." Finally, he explores common directions in Marxism/deconstruction, (Rowbotham's) socialist feminism, and (Negri's) autonomy dieory in terms of human needs, agency, and social categories and organization . Ryan writes with exceptional clarity, and raises indisputably important issues. However, his project suffers from four fundamental weaknesses. (1) Deconstruction, as critique of metaphysics, may be alloyed with Marxism (minus metaphysics — or any "ism" minus metaphysics) but it is not clear that this strengtiiens Marxism. Many have understood Marx's Capital, dialectics, and relation to Leninism much as Ryan does without reference to deconstruction. Ryan says people die for being Marxists but not for being deconstructionists; we may lament this injustice, but calling Marx a "protodeconstructionist " while claiming deconstruction lacks a social dieory seems unilluminating. (2) Ryan's arguments are weak, self-referentially naive, and cry for "deconstruction." His dichotomies — metaphysical/non-metaphysical, ideological/nonideological , theoretical/practical — constitute a "metaphysical system of priorities and oppositions." Ryan never subjects his views to his own criticisms. (3) Ryan gives no argument for his leftist/radical political goals. Whatever one's sympathies, argument is needed (especially for sweeping proclamations that, e.g. , connect Searle's philosophy to torture in Chile). While he claims that "revolution is not a party" matter (vive la différante!), Ryan appears a party man. He attempts to base his politics on deconstruction, but deconstruction is incompatible with diis notion of basis, and all political issues are "undecidable" within deconstruction. (4) Ryan claims practical rather than scholarly goals. Granting this dualism, does the book succeed? I see no evidence to answer affirmatively, but perhaps Ryan does "keep open the question of revolution." This in itself is important. Whitman CollegeJohnJ. Stuhr Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis, by Richard J. Bernstein; xvi & 284 pp. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983, $25.00 clothbound, $8.95 paper. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism is a survey of recent dunking about knowledge and justification. Focusing on Kuhn, Winch, and Gadamer, Bernstein traces the emergence of historicist theories of justification in both the natural and human sciences. What Reviews293 justifies a theory in physics, anthropology, or literary criticism is not, as Kuhn, Winch, and Gadamer have shown, its having been formulated in accordance with a philosophically established decision procedure or scientific method. Descartes and his logical positivist successors were wrong to think there is an ahistorical scientific method (p. 128). Any mediods ofjustification which have ever been employed or which we can imagine necessarily depend upon at least some tacit unargued traditional presuppositions. To many of their immediate readers, Kuhn, Winch, and Gadamer seemed to be urging a variety of relativism, arguing that all scientific mediods and standards of rational justification are local and arbitrary. In fact, however, it has become clear (partly through the work of such later figures as Feyerabend, Lakatos, Rorty, Geertz, and Habermas) that the epistemológica! views of Kuhn, Winch, and Gadamer were not intended to support relativism and, moreover, do not. Instead, a dieory can be justified historically if it can be shown to satisfy criteria of theory choice which have been (in a phrase Bernstein borrows from Rorty) "hammered out" in the course of past inquiry (p. 67). What this seems to mean is that criteria of theory choice evolve historically along with actual dieories. The task ofan inquirer, in seeking tojustify a theory at a historical moment, is to discern which parts of his tradition — perhaps its art, its physics, its...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 292-293
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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