In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews1 1 7 Cappon knows Whitehead's work well, Wordsworth's much less well, and their commentators' (at least of the last 25 years) not well at all. His straightforward exposition of The Prelude sometimes stumbles badly, as when he mistakes the blighted and ravaged Royalist officer of IX. 143-64 for Wordsworth's Patriot mentor Beaupuy (p. 162) or when by misreading Wordsworth's effort "to abstract the hopes of man / Out of his feelings" (X. 807-808) he completely inverts Wordsworth's self-analysis (pp. 215, 232). His oddest critical sally, though, has no direct connection with The Prelude (or with Whitehead), but concerns the most famous of Wordsworth's "Lucy" poems, "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal," which Cappon incongruously wants to read as a poem about Wordsworth's French lover, Annette Vallon. His justification, apparently, is that "Annette" and "Lucy" are both two-syllable names: "The name Annette may be read . . . either in the French fashion, without accent on either syllable, or it may be read with an accent on the first syllable. In either reading it could be fitted very well into the 'Luc/ poem rhythm. Authors of poetry often choose consciously or unconsciously the name for a character in a poem because of its possible rhythmical connection with the name of a real person" (pp. 158-59). Does anyone actually say Annette? But in fact it hardly matters — for the name "Lucy," into whose rhythm Cappon is trying to fit "Annette," never appears in the poem. Cappon chooses The Prelude as his Wordsworthian text, he says, "because Whitehead admired the poem and it seemed to us, early in our study, that he might have been influenced by it in specific ways" (p. 15). Cappon never begins to establish such influence. But why choose the 1805 rather than the 1850 version of The Prelude as a text? After all, the latter was what Whitehead read (the 1805 version was not published until 1926). Here as elsewhere, Cappon's unrigorous self-indulgence severely vitiates his undertaking. Universityof GeorgiaJohn A. Hodgson The Deconstructive Turn: Essays in the Rhetoric of Philosophy, by Christopher Norris; vi & 201 pp. New York: Methuen, 1983, $8.95 paper. For those immersed in the phenomenological or hermeneutical tradition, deconstruction often appears as little more than an exercise in interpretative ingenuity emphasizing the ambiguous or polysemous character of writing. For many analytic philosophers deconstruction represents simply another attempt by literary theorists to display a clever technique for perverting sincere efforts to 1 18Philosophy and Literature achieve truth. So it should come as little surprise that the deconstructive "turn" which Norris addresses does not indicate a conscious increase in interest among contemporary philosophers in deconstructive themes and techniques. Nor is the turn really one of attempting to apply deconstruction to the interpretation of contemporary philosophy. The real deconstructive turn occurs from within contemporary philosophizing itself, a move made all the more sinister in appearance because it cannot be self-acknowledged without threatening the avowed goal of philosophy as truth devoid of rhetorical flourish. As Norris points out, deconstructionists (especially Jacques Derrida and the late Paul de Man) question the assumption that philosophy can consistently ignore the figurai nature of its own language. In fact, the more analytic philosophy takes cognizance of the textual character of philosophic writing, the more evident becomes the attempt to conceal the immanent deconstructive turn the analysis of writing itself requires. In order to maintain western philosophy's "logocentric" bias — the belief that language is subordinate to thought, rhetoric subordinate to logic, style subordinate to meaning, writing subordinate to intelligibility — philosophy has to blind itself to its own figuration or avoid both written and spoken language altogether because such structures of signification nowhere coincide with the self-present truth of what a speaker intends. Ordinary language analysis, Saussurean structuralism, and Husserlian phenomenology attempt the logocentric absorption of philosophic concepts into formalized structures in order to insure that knowledge can be made certain by placing concepts within logical grammars or live contexts of thought. But even within such approaches (as RyIe points out) lurks the covert metaphysics of "consciousness terms." Wittgenstein as well criticizes the mentalist imagery and subjective mind states necessary to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 117-119
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.