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

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 thus engages in a "double-cross: subverting Heidegger by means of Derrida, subverting Derrida by means of Heidegger, and always by means of pressing their 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: A Postmodern Altheohgy, and by Robert Magliola in Derrida on the Mend. Caputo's work would have been even richer had he acknowledged and engaged such similar yet different efforts. But that failure constitutes at most a minor flaw in a major effort. Read Radical Hermeneutics. Don'tjust read it: take it to heart. University of KansasG. Douglas Atkins Reading Saussure: A Critical Commentary on the "Cours de linguistique générale," by Roy Harris; xviii & 248 pp. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1987, $12.95. Just as Wittgenstein was a philosopher who disapproved of philosophy, so Harris is a linguist who disapproves of linguistics, or at any rate of the current activities of most academic linguists in the English-speaking world. Harris has Reviews315 expressed this disapproval in a series of books: The Language-Makers (1980), The Language Myth (1981), and The Origin of Writing (1986). What he mainly dislikes ("the language mydi") is the idea of a language as a fixed code for conveying messages between members of a speech community. Whatever his reasons for this dislike—they include an alleged "contradiction between a fixedcode model oflanguages and the linguistic freedom ofthe individual" (p. 236)— it is clear that Harris must reject Saussure's classic view oflinguistics as primarily concerned neither with actual utterances nor with linguistic change and variety but with hngues as synchronically invariant codes consisting of entities defined solely in terms oftheir mutual relationships. ReadingSaussure is therefore neidier an exegeticalcommentarylike Tullio de Mauro's edition of 1972 norabeginner's survey like Jonathan Culler's Saussure (1976) but a polemic: although die Cours is "one of die most impressive intellectual landmarks of modern tiiought" (p. 237), it is its failure which Harris sees as instructive, not its success. In the preface (pp. i-xviii), Harris emphasizes the extent of Saussure's influence on later linguists in both Europe and America, and proclaims his purpose as "to seek out what in the Cours remains 'unread' " (p. xv). General issues of interpretation are left to the last forty pages of the book, "Saussurean Linguistics "; all the rest ("The Syntagmatics of the Cours", pp. 1—192) consists of thorough chapter-by-chapter comments on the text. Harris dissects all Saussure 's central notions—hngue versus parole, synchrony versus diachrony, the syntagmatic versus the associative dimension, valeur and l'arbitraire du signeana condemns them all as irredeemably flawed. Because linguists did not...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 314-316
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.