restricted access Reading Lessons: C.B. Macpherson’s Immanent Critique


This article examines C.B. Macpherson’s reading strategies and interpretive assumptions in critically engaging texts in the tradition of political theory in English, centrally in Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. It reflects upon the parallels and contrasts between Macpherson’s critical procedures and the “immanent method” theorized and practised by Theodor Adorno as well as the deconstruc-tive reading strategies made influential in literary studies through Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man. It attempts to bring out how Macpherson’s reading strategies are acutely attentive to the logical, rhetorical, historical, and unconscious dimensions of language in the texts he engages. In these respects, his rigorously close readings, the article argues, provide an exemplary model for politicized critical engagements, one that potentially bridges formalism, decon-struction, and historicism - approaches that are too often rent asunder in contemporary literary and cultural criticism.