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Reviews223 The general thrust of this work can be seen to formulate an important appraisal of the research programs dominating these approaches. Like Gadamer's critic, Emilio Betti, or Derrida's critics, Paul Ricoeur or John Searle, Seung claims that "the overriding importance of reference and its presumed objectivity" (p. 236) has been lost. Hermeneutics lost sight of justification and objectivity through a subjectification and contextualization of interpretative acts, while structuralism and methodologies emphasizing the formal constraints on interpretation jettisoned any presumption of reference. The reduction of subjective effects makes all interpretations blind, entrapped within the formal grids of which they are the functions. The reduction of all statements to interpretative, historical contexts , dissolves all claim to truth, including its own. While the paths were quite different, the results were the same: relativism, blind contextualism, irrationalism. Seung believes that a return to something like Husserl's notion of intentionality can provide the foundations for an adequate account of interpretative practices. Such a position recognizes that all thoughts, all interpretative acts are referential (either to real or irreal objects) and that such references have logical-objective import that is not reducible to historical or personal-psychological contexts. The only question that remains outstanding for such a recognition is whether a return to the Platonism of late-nineteenth century writers such as Frege or Husserl, whose notions of objectivity and rationality were constructed around attempts to avoid the Charybdis of relativism, thus avoiding the pitfalls of historicism and psychologism, can effectively remain the final models for our practices. Seung does state that a poststructuralist writer like Derrida, for instance, who combines elements of both of these traditions, presents a-"reaction" that is in some sense "necessary" and even "a healthy antidote to naive scientific optimism" (p. xii), though he still finds Derrida's results logically untenable. Yet it may still need to be asked whedier, like their analytic counterparts (e.g., Wittgenstein or Kuhn), thinkers such as Heidegger, Gadamer, or Derrida have come upon problems which, despite the often cloudy character of their discussion, must force a radical revision of the classical Cartesian view of intentionality or the objectivity of Platonic notions of"truths-in-themselves." Without revision, such notions may provide the Scylla for an overly Fregean or Husserlian response to the excesses and deficiencies of structuralism and hermeneutics. Colgate UniversityStephen H. Watson Saving the Text: Literature/'Derrida/'Philosophy, by Geoffrey H. Hartman; xxvi & 184 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981, $12.95. Saving the Text by Geoffrey Hartman is primarily "about" Glas by Jacques Derrida. Glas is primarily "about" Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and the novels of Jean Genet. I am using the term "about" guardedly because both books are about the writing of texts as much as anything else. I do not mean they are about the relation ofauthor to book; rather they are about books as texts, as textuality, as internally structured labyrinths of signs. We are adrift on the seas of contemporary French literary criticism, which is brilliant to 224Philosophy and Literature be sure, but with the brilliance of the sun's glittering reflection shimmering on waves, blinding the eyes. Derrida does not permit the solace of received meanings; he does not permit the security of truth; he does not even permit the comfort of a book. Stability is a false friend — "Equivocation is illimitable." Now it is true, I think, that outside the relatively limited set of phrases that get us through everyday social life, the communication of more personal and less ordinary meanings can be a daunting task. It is often difficult to grasp people's meanings, whether speaking with or reading them. Notwithstanding, one is rarely in the solitary position of the protagonist of Ionesco's Rhinoceros; we make do. Hermeneutics is the serious, academic response to this same difficulty. Deconstruction, on the other hand, Derrida's "method," insists that meaning must be freed from any firm relation to the signified. Reading must now play as hard as the swift play of meaning, spinning in the whirlwind of plural absences, marching to the drumbeat of Nietzsche's "mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms." Anything less selfconscious would be naive. Derrida must even surpass...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 223-224
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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