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

Reviews313 dialogue, but as what Socrates says he remembers of a dialogue and as what Plato in turn writes down (parricidally, Derrida muses in "Plato's Pharmacy"): a triple mediation, the imitation of an imitation. How dien could the ostensible doctrine ofsuch a text be linked in an unproblematic way, as Nyquist proposes, to "Plato"? Such questions are by no means to be construed as a "critique" of Nyquist or of the other contributors in the collection. That those questions can perhaps fruitfully be posed is one sign of the collection's value. Washington State UniversityRalph Flores Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project, by John D. Caputo; ix & 319 pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, $37.50 cloth, $17.50 paper. This is a remarkable book: wide-ranging, resonant, and well-written; it is also reflective and personable, warm and engaging. Especially if you are, like me, not a philosopher but a literary type, you will have to struggle with die dense chapters on Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Being and Time, but the close readings of Derrida and the later Heidegger are among the best I know, and so die prize is well worth the effort. Radical Hermeneutics emerges as one of those all-too-rare academic books that you hate to finish. Part of its excitement and importance derives from John D. Caputo's awareness that hermeneutics and deconstruction bear on our experience as persons engaged in ethical, political , and religious choices. Caputo is as nimble as he is judicious, and his moves are a pleasure to observe. The author of two previous books on Heidegger (The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought and Heidegger and Aquinas: An Essay on Overcoming Metaphysics ), Caputo understands hermeneutics as "an attempt to stick with the original difficulty of life, and not to betray it with metaphysics" (p. 1). By no means an exercise in nihilism, "radical hermeneutics" stays with and in the flux and tries to cope with it instead of escaping via one or more of the handy mechanisms philosophy has devised. Drawing on Kierkegaard, Caputo juxtaposes repetition, which "means to produce something, not to reproduce a prior presence," with "recollection," which, instead of forging ahead, retreats, representing "a nostalgic, melancholy longing for a lost paradise, a dreamy wistfulness " (p. 15). These differences parallel, of course, Derrida's "two interpretations of interpretation ." It is Heidegger, however, who constitutes the focus here, diough 314Philosophy and Literature he by no means has the last word. The opening chapters on Kierkegaard and on Husserl (the latter a strong, revisionist reading) point toward Being and Time. But that monumental text tells only part of the story, even for Heidegger, whose later writings Caputo elucidates. He effects ultimately a productive interweaving of Heidegger and Derrida that represents a radicalization of the former and a hermeneutic reading ofthe latter. Unlike those, such as Gadamer, who appear to stay with the flux but manage to escape, Caputo refuses to arrest die movement of drought. The result is a "cold" hermeneutics (it throws us out into the cold, makes us shiver) that sees in Derrida "an emancipatory form," in Heidegger "a meditative one" (p. 192). Neidier is privileged: Derrida and deconstruction need Heidegger and hermeneutics no more nor less than die latter do them. Caputo dius engages in a "double-cross: subverting Heidegger by means of Derrida, subverting Derrida by means of Heidegger, and always by means of pressing dieir point ofintersection—die delimitation of Being and truth (Wahrheit) as effects" (p. 198). This subversion points toward a "postmetaphysical rationality" and "an ediics of dissemination." Uniting Derridean dissemination and Heideggerian Gelassenheit (letting be), Caputo offers a discussion faithful to these (different) diinkers, as well as rich, suggestive, and practical. In his last chapter, Caputo applies some ofdie derived insights. Among odier tilings, he provides a "genealogy of the religious" diat relates, in my view, not only to liberation theology but also to Rabbi Harold S. Kushner's meditations on suffering in When Bad Things Happen to Good People. This attempt to apply "radical hermeneutics" is, however, the least successful part of Caputo's book. The basic notions have, moreover, been treated elsewhere, e.g., by Mark Taylor in Erring...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 313-314
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.