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Reviews1 1 1 And so, is the search for a core sense of raison entirely futile? After reading Haight, I am left with the impression that behind the protean raison lurks what today often goes by the name of "reflective equilibrium." If so, then our understanding of seventeenth-century French thought is due for a major revision. University of ColoradoSteven Fuller Innovation/Renovation: New Perspectives on the Humanities, edited by Ihab Hassan and Sally Hassan; viii & 365 pp. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983, $27.50. The debate about the nature of modernism and postmodernism forms the focal point around which the majority of the papers in this important scholarly volume pivot. They are die result of two conferences on "Innovation/Renovation " held in Germany in 1980 and the United States in 1981. Of the sixteen papers, those of Ihab Hassan, Claus Uhlig, Dominick LaCapra, and Paul Noack address the theme of"Perspectives on Change"; while Geoffery H. Hartman , Ralph Cohen, Wayne C. Booth, Herbert Blau, Richard Schechner, Régis Durand, Leslie A. Fielder, Didier Coste, and Matei Calinescu offer differing "Perspectives on Innovation"; finally there are "Perspectives on Postmodernism" by Norman N. Holland, Malcolm Bradbury, and Jean-François Lyotard. The range of subjects discussed covers most of the important areas in the humanities. I shall restrict my comments to three papers, one from each section of the volume, which incorporate important features of certain others while themselves offering significant contributions to the vexed question of the implication and impact of postmodernism. LaCapra's "Intellectual History and Defining the Present as 'Postmodern'" attempts to redefine die orientation of intellectual history in the light of recent developments in French philosophy. Derrida's impact has caused historians to rethink their understanding of the "present in the past." In articulating a postmodernist historiography, La Capra is concerned to develop a conception of the "present" which is ensnared neither in a view of history as discontinuous nor in one that sees it as the unfolding of a simple continuity. Going beyond this opposition , and diereby displacing the "traditional options," is understood as a continual process which refuses a unique result or consequence. Such a process does not involve rejecting tout court the categories of traditional historiography but rather their reformulation. This is apparent in LaCapra's reworking of the terms "text" and "context," where the former becomes a site of differing tendencies while the latter loses its power to provide "a univocal 'key' to the meaning of a text." 1 12Philosophy and Literature Hartman, one of the (in)famous Yale critics, opens his "The New Wilderness: Critics as Connoisseurs of Chaos" with an eloquent restatement of the way in which criticism becomes creative and thus itself becomes a place where the nature of the literary is continually rethought. Hartman's major concern, however, is to argue that die opponents of the Yale school employ in their critiques the very concepts and strategies that have been brought into question by "poststructuralist theory." But there is a further, and for Hartman a more disturbing , dimension to these attacks on contemporary theory. In them he identifies a totalizing and universalizing tendency which aims to force a sameness on linguistic practice. Implicit in Hartman's position is the claim that the recognition by poststructuralist theory of the arbitrary, nonstandard, and fragmented nature of discourse entails (or perhaps should entail) a critical and political pluralism. It is the joining of the political and theoretical that distinguishes the importance of Hartman's paper. Lyotard's "Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?" is a direct though enormously sophisticated intervention in a debate which his earlier La Condition Postmoderne helped to start. Lyotard's response to this question stems from his recent work on theories of presentation. Kant on the Sublime is interpreted as providing a way into an understanding of modernism, for the Sublime concerns the unpresentable while the modern "presents the fact diat the unpresentable exists." This "fact" gives rise to two responses. One is nostalgic and regretful of the modern predicament while the other celebrates and affirms die inventive possibilities it affords; "Melancholia contra novatio." Lyotard identifies the former widi the modern while the latter is the postmodernist stance...


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