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210Philosophy and Literature Most often in diese essays Lyotard floats in clouds of Kant—as he does in such recent works as Le Différend, Aufuste, and LEnthousiasme—making use of the Second and Third Critiques to depart from die First Critique's domain of cognition and determinantjudgment. The results are hardly Kantian, save in the frequent insistence on the moral fact of duty or law, and it is here that I find Lyotard least convincing. Must we answer die call of clouds, as Lyotard asserts? Can an ethics of responsiveness to singularity and contingency signal more than a personal preference? Or is not Lyotard simply making a profession of faith and himself issuing the summons to the law? And even if we should answerthatsummons, can an ethics ofthe form ofthought keep from coUapsing into an aestheticism capable ofjustifying anything? It is a shame that in these lectures Lyotard does not choose to position himself in the field ofcurrent criticism, for it would be interesting to hear his assessment of his relation to such figures as Deleuze, BaudriUard, Foucault, and Derrida. But if he does not map today's critical terrain, he does provide an implicit narrative of his own peregrinations—from Marxist commitment through disUlusionment and demonic descent (Economie libidinale) to ethical recovery (Le Différend)—that might serve as an exemplary history ofa certain postwar destiny. These dioughtful and elegant essays are among Lyotard's finest productions, at once complex and informal, abstract, and personal. The afterword, a translation of a 1982 essay by Lyotard on his différend with Marxism, is a fitting complement to the three lectures. The volume's exhaustive bibliography of Lyotard's work is invaluable. University of GeorgiaRonald Bogue ActualMinds, Possible Worlds, byJerome Bruner; xi & 201 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986, $15.00. Compounded from papers written eariier but rewritten to increase its unity, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds is both a good and interesting work. Nonetheless, the reader is encouraged to pay attention not only to what the book says, but also to what it does not. The chapters emphasize what is patendy important to Bruner: literature and the arts, cognitive development theory, and ruminations ofa phüosophical character. In his essay on science and the humanities, "Possible Casdes," he claims the humanities' function to be the exploration ofpossibUities, die creation of possible worlds. Although congenial, this cannot be construed as definitive. Science too can claim to create and explore possible worlds. Bruner does make us explicidy aware that he is foregoing treatment of science's role— but disclaimers, even at Uieir on-face best, always breed feehngs of discomfort. Reviews211 The book's strengths apart, its greatest lack throughout remains the author's neglect of science. There are three essays which embody die general thrust of the book. In "Two Modes ofThought," Bruner claims thatin its mirroring ofa livingcontext, the narrative mode of thought does something the paradigmatic mode does not. But confusions exist for this central narrative mode and Bruner seems to ignore them. Thus, history is not fiction and historical narrative cannot be fictional narrative. His indulgence of this potential muddle is part of a latent virus. When anthropologists caU attention to the mythical content in theories ofhuman development, they do sobecause theywish us to attend to the narrative style ofsuch theories. But to caU attention to "x" to the exclusion ofthe remainder of what is involved in the theory's construction causes the explanatory ship to list rather dangerously. Narratives play profoundly different roles in different explanatory enterprises, and the role of narrative in science would be importandy different. The faüure to draw such distinctions with care is something which can easüy lead astray. In "The Transactional Self," Bruner explores the notion diat "most of our approaches to the world are mediated dirough negotiations with others" (p. 68) and argues that narrative ties together various aspects of cognition (perceiving , feeling, thinking). Also by means of narratives, we negotiate, and tiius come to, meanings. In another essay dealing with "The Language ofEducation," Bruner draws out some of the implications of this view of narrative and its role in education, emphasizing that "The language of education is the L...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 210-212
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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