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308Philosophy and Literature situating of Milton in terms of this "hermeneutic" allows for a Freudian reading not antipathetic to religion. It also allows Kerrigan to posit questions about mastery, authority, subordination, belatedness, culture, and creative maturation. "In his early searches for God, I believe that Milton attached Christ to the ego-ideal, his vision of an ego perfectly responsible to, and therefore fully rewarded by, the superego" (p. 81). This "attachment" serves not only to define for Kerrigan a stage of psychological development (ego-ideal to superego) but serves as a clue for artistic expression, and functions as a means for sighting Milton's eschatological project as well. The major problems widi Kerrigan's study are the absence of a metapsychological theory upon which the literary perceptions about the superego can be made credible, and the crude overreduction of Ricoeur^ notion of symbol. For Ricoeur the symbol is an intentional structure in the Husserlian sense, whereas for Kerrigan it has more in common with a new critical tradition, reminding one of analyses of Eliot's The Waste Land done years ago. Therefore, although Kerrigan's book appears intriguing and has some interesting points on Milton's poetry, it remains theoretically naive. The book's "psychogenesis" is little more than a blend of biography and scattered ideas taken from psychologists and philosophers. It is the kind of study someone will have to take up again some day from a more serious and systematic point of view. University of IowaHerman Rapaport Hermeneutics: Questions and Prospects, edited by Gary Shapiro and Alan Sica; 310 pp. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984, $24.00. Is there hermeneutics? Probably it is unreasonable to demand that a collection ofessays by diverse liEinds possess a unifying diesis. But it ought, at least, to have a topic. Does tile fact that books, articles, and collections are written on hermeneutics mean that it exists? Or is hermeneutics rather a flag widiout colors, a vague hope promising universal salvation , an amorphous fear threatening universEil subversion? I raise these questions not as a skeptical outsider but a participant committed to hermeneutics. To know what diat commitment entails, what sort of identity it stipulates, would be pleasant and comforting. The present collection, however, offers (sind is intended to offer) little reassurance. "The essays in this volume are broad in their coverage ofcontemporary hermeneutics," Shapiro and Sica remark, "but they hardly exhaust the field" (p. 21). Both assertions are correct. The collection is divided into three sections: on philosophy — with contributions by Betti, Gadamer, Dreyfus (response by Palmer), Mohanty, and de Man; on literature — essays by Bruns, O'Neill (response by Spivak), and Stonum; and on social theory and history — essays by Giddens (response by Dallmayr) and Dray (response by Martin). Philosophy, literature, and social science do indeed represent considerable breadth. Yet in this scheme biblical hermeneutics — traditionally central — receives scant treatment, and legal hermeneutics none at all. Even given the real breadth of coverage that this collection does possess, it is implicitly evident diat hermeneutics involves a hopeful or fearful, but in any case portentous, impulse to global syndiesis and universality. It spans and unites disciplines, especially die humaniore. Hermeneutics not only analyzes understanding, shared knowledge, and com- Reviews309 munication but promotes them, not only scrutinizes its subject but recursively participates in it. Anthony Giddens rightly calls attention to the blurring of modern genres of thought to which hermeneutics has contributed. "To talk of die 'blurring' of erstwhile separate frames of reference or contexts of discussion is to employ an appropriate term in more than one sense. For the occurrence of a convergence of approaches has not always provided clarification of die matters at issue; it has also fogged diem" (p. 220). Because of its involvement in its own subjects and its centrifugal movement, hermeneutics too has become fogged and blurred, and by necessity so. The collection's editors and contributors do well to avoid distinguishing, specifying, and defining hermeneutics, for die impulse to synthesis precludes die contrary impulse to definition. Since hermeneutics is constituted by no specifiable doctrine, program, or mediod, one might best characterize Shapiro Eind Sica's volume not as a topical collection but a.festschrift, one that celebrates...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 308-309
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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