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Reviews179 ology for the social sciences, Hekman maintains that "methodological implications " can nevertiieless be drawn from his work. His "fusion of horizons," for example, avoids what she calls die "errors" of positivism and subjectivism. Hekman's study faUs to deliver on its promise of a major reorientation in our understanding of the social sciences. Like many odier exemplars of the once-again fashionable genre, "Grand Theory," the book neither substantiates nor exemplifies the "radical" proposals and methodological initiatives it announces . In the face of the postmodernist chaUenge, Hekman invokes that familiar subject of American social theory, "the normative values of our tradition " (p. 186). Hekman successfully "fuses horizons" with Mannheim and Gadamer, but she refuses to come fuUy to grips with alternative lines of theory and research. She upholds her program largely by advancing facUe dismissals of relevant work in the sociology of scientific knowledge, ethnomethodology, and interpretive sociology; and her critiques ofWittgenstein, Rorty, Habermas, Derrida, and Foucault often amount to heavy-handed, and sometimes outlandish , assertions, such as "Wittgenstein's essentiaUy epistemological approach" (p. 119), or Foucault's and Derrida's having "forgotten that historical, social and cultural grounds are necessary to human life" (p. 196). Hekman writes as one possessed of a truth which enables her to pinpoint the "errors" of other thinkers, and she repeatedly asserts that "it is not difficult to show" how these rivals go astray. The criticism underplays theextent towhich some ofdie rejected approaches not only anticipate the sorts of critique she gives, but offer refinements and singular applications of the themes she espouses. Boston UniversityMichael Lynch Milton andFree Will: An Essay in Criticism andPhilosophy, by William Myers; 258 pp. New York: Methuen, 1987, $62.00. The tide seems misleading; the book is not so much about MUton as it is a protracted and difficult worrying of the question of free wiU. "My argument," Myers writes, "involves a defense of traditional notions of truth, the self and God, which I believe rationalists, empiricists and deconstructionists have aU misread" (p. 4). It is a defense of the humanist tradition of free wiU "against the greattide ofempiricist and critical phUosophy which has dominated Western inteUectual discourse since Hume and Kant" (p. 60). I can imagine this book offering excitations to doctoral candidates pursuing symbolic logic or to erudite Jesuits in philosophy enclaves, but the reasonably inteUigent ordinary reader wiU find much of it to be like sucking a desiccated 180Philosophy and Literature lemon. It wiU support Sydney's conclusion that phUosophers are "hard of utterance and misty to be conceived." The experience of reading this book is at times so exasperating that one has the urge to resort to Samuel Johnson's solution: "Sir, said he, we know our wül is free, and there's an end on't." Part of the problem is that the writing is too often unnecessarily tangled and involuted. Here is a specimen: "... what Monod takes to be an historically unique, soteriological portentous event—acceptance of the postulate of objectivity—is rather an entirely normal, and therefore, on his premisses, a biologicaUy determined event" (p. 154). This book is odd, though, in that portions of it are intensely interesting and weU written. It is as though the writer has double selves: the Doctor Jekyll is an agüe and fascinating writer; the Mr. Hyde dourly serves academic solemnity. Within this phUosophical labyrinth the reader suddenly encounters the idea of being teletransported and replicated ceU by cell on Mars. Then, would my Self be my actual Self? Such passages are a relief from the thin air of recondite phUosophizing. Similarly, the reader is rewarded with acute discussions of James's The Portrait of a Lady. They are so good and so central that the tide could just as well have been fames and Free Will. If a reader can survive the first seven chapters, the last three wül make the effort worthwhile. They develop a brilliant defense of MUton's humanist conception of free wül. At the risk of blurring the argument, here is a glimpse of Myers's discussion. He uses deconstructionist theory, but opposes Barthes's position that the refusal to fix meaning is ultimately a denial...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 179-180
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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