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214Philosophy and Literature humaneness was alien to Pascal's absolutism, although admittedly it is Pascal's absolutism which is the foundation of his greatness. Secondly, the book is certainly inadequate on Pascal the scientist. This is important because science was so essential to this man and the key to his being heard in the first place. Nelson has done a fine job of collating diverse factors bearing on his argument, and taken as a whole, the book is both a worthy effort and a pleasure to read. Whitman CollegeJoseph J . Maier The Question ofBeliefin Literary Criticism: An Introduction to the Hermeneutical Theory ofPaul Ricoeur, by Mary Gerhart; 498 pp. Stuttgart: Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz, 1979, DM 40.00. Paul Ricoeur's engaging and important work deserves careful study, especially by anyone interested in symbolics, poetics, and hermeneutics. Mary Gerhart's book contains much informed, helpful exposition of the views Ricoeur has held at various times and places them within the context of other critics, philosophers, and theologians. The book falls into three parts. Part I takes up "bélier in literary interpretation, with sections on Richards, Eliot, Ransom, Tate, and Frye, and hermeneuticians, Heidegger, Hirsch, Betti, and Gadamer. Part II, described as a "lengthy detour" and twice as long as the first part, is devoted to a developmental and synoptic picture of Ricoeur's theory of interpretation . A concluding Part III seeks to apply the systematics of Part II to the question of "belief." The book's particular merits are unfortunately overshadowed by two strategic confusions . The broader is a confusion about the aim of her project, whether it is chiefly that of following a debate about "belief" in twentieth-century criticism and European thought or rather that of "introducing" Ricoeur's hermeneutical theory. Within the latter task a further confusion arises when she takes the entirety of Ricoeur's writings from Freedom and Nature and Fallible Man on, as the most suitable introduction to his hermeneutics. This introduction is carried out not only in the ordinary sense that any thinker might be studied, but ironically, it goes against the very grain of what is most distinctive of Ricoeur's later theory, evident in his books The Rule ofMetaphor (1975) and Interpretation Theory (1976). These works receive remarkably scant consideration, though they are the most serious and advanced cases of Ricoeur's claim to our attention. Even conceived in terms of only the first half of Gerhart's title, the book would be, and to a large extent actually is, based upon a premise that is probably mistaken or at least theoretically obsolete. It is not just the hoary redolence of topics like Literature and Belief: English Institute Essays (1958) or The Problem of "Poetry and Belief in Contemporary Criticism (1949); for it could be argued that the advance to a hermeneutics of the text does not solve but dissolves the hermeneutics oí belief, and that Ricoeur leads us to appreciate this consequence . Gerhart supposes that there is an underlying and overriding issue of "belief," which various theorists are facing or ignoring and of which she is attempting a first systematic overview (p. 6). That there is any such single thing is never demonstrated, and Reviews215 its relation to notions like faith, knowledge, opinion, feeling, thought is never carefully examined. The wider the field she makes "belief" coextensive with — truth, commitment, meaning — the more doubtful it becomes. Indeed, it must be asked why one of the other prestige terms does not far better deserve this position. By the end of the book, it names the whole of worldly being: "Belief is ajudgment, linguistically expressed as having a selfreferent and an object-referent, about a possible world and way ofbeing-in-the-world" (p. 296). This definition pivots on the widely questioned model of consciousness and subjectivity , subject-object metaphysics, expressivist and propositional conceptions of language. It is part of Ricoeur's aim, whether he succeeds, to surmount this model through a hermeneutics of texts and their power to open up a world. Gerhart would like to believe that all the main points in Ricoeur's later hermeneutics can be rephrased in the language of belief. She concedes that Ricoeur himself...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 214-215
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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