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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 afestschrift, one that celebrates not a person but rather (as the German suggests) a Fest, an ongoing event or unconcluded movement which therefore cannot be conclusively defined. Hermeneutics delivers only what its subtide promises: Questions and Prospects. Having briefly argued for the volume's necessary amorphousness, let me now reverse myself to suggest that it is also unnecessarily amorphous. I wonder for instance about the inclusion of die late Paul de Man's "Phenomenality and Materiality in Kant." Even conceding diat it amounts to an interpretation (radier than a demonstration diat Kant cannot be interpreted), one is moved to ask whedier all interpretations, or all Kant interpretations , fall within the collection's scope. A similar question arises concerning O'Neill's and Spivak's contributions on Barthes: are all meta-interpretations hermeneutic, and was Barthes an interpreter of literature? So too Gary Stonum's fine piece on die dangers of tropology can be called "hermeneutic" only iftiiat term includes virtually everything written on literature. My question is not about the real value of these essays but only their appropriateness. Finally, the relative ignoring here of biblical and legal interpretation makes hermeneutics seem unduly "academic." With respect to law and scripture clearly more is at stake than contemplative debate. The Sache of normative hermeneutics is no object to be disinterestedly contemplated because the law and scripture make claims on the interpreter that cannot be evaded. The hermeneutics ofnormative texts issues notjust in conceptual knowledge but in praxis. Texas Tech UniversityJoel Weinsheimer No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, edited by Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander; viii & 278 pp. Carbondale: Soudiern Illinois University Press, 1983, $19.95. This disappointing volume consists of thirteen essays by as many contributors on thirteen works of Utopian and dystopian fiction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, plus an introductory essay by die chief editor, Eric S. Rabkin. The principles, if any, for inclusion or exclusion of works for consideration in this volume are unclear. One would have thought that Edward Bellamy's classic Looking Backward would have an essay devoted to it; its importance is widely agreed upon, and many of the audiors of these essays make 310Philosophy and Literature passing reference to it. On die other hand one is astonished to find an essay devoted to Player Piano, a shoddy, fragmented, incoherent, implausibly contrived, mechanical, and dull first novel by the tenth-rate author, Kurt Vonnegut. But most ofthe works discussed are central to the genre, e.g., Zamiatin's We, 1984, Brave New World, Waiden Two, Lordof the Flies, Erewhon, and The Shape of Things to Come. By count, dystopian fiction has a slight edge over Utopian works, which is what one would expect since a well-done work ofdystopian fiction is usually a better read Eind more philosophically combative than a well-done work of Utopian fiction. Plato's Republic is no exception to this general rule since it is not a work of fiction except in a very Pickwickian sense. Astoundingly, not one of the several audiors who discuss, orjust mention Plato or die Republic in passing, appears to know this. Plato's name is invariably linked with those of one or another author of some piece...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 309-310
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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