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Contemporary Philosophy


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Philosophical Genealogy Volume I: An Epistemological Reconstruction of Nietzsche and Foucault's Genealogical Method by Brian Lightbody (American University Studies Series V: v 208, Philosophy: Peter Lang) Philosophical Genealogy Volume II: An Epistemological Reconstruction of Nietzsche and Foucault's Genealogical Method by Brian Lightbody(American University Studies Series V: v 209, Philosophy: Peter Lang) Philosophical Genealogy Volume I: An Epistemological Reconstruction of Nietzsche and Foucault's Genealogical Method is a rigorous examination of the philosophical investigatory practice known as "genealogy." This critique of the philosophical tradition leads to the creation of new values. Both Nietzsche and Foucault extolled these critical and emancipatory virtues of genealogy.
Volume I examines the principal ontological and epistemological problems with Nietzsche and Foucault's respective uses of the genealogical method. It elucidates the differences between genealogy and other forms of historical inquiry before turning to explicate, in great detail, the three axes of genealogical inquiry: the power axis, the truth axis and the ethical axis. Volume I explains the very important role the body plays in a genealogical investigation before examining several of the problems with the doctrine of perspectivism—a central component to a genealogical inquiry.
Volume II: An Epistemological Reconstruction of the Genealogical Method, these problems are now resolved. Volume II establishes what requisite ontological underpinnings are required in order to provide a successful, epistemic reconstruction of the genealogical method. Problems regarding the nature of the body, the relation between power and resistance as well as the justification of Nietzschean perspectivism, are now all clearly answered. It is shown that genealogy is a profound, fecund and, most importantly, coherent method of philosophical and historical investigation which may produce many new discoveries in the fields of ethics and moral inquiry provided it is correctly employed. More

Doctor Who and Philosophy edited by Courtland Lewis and Paula Smithka (Popular Culture and Philosophy Series: Open Court) Doctor Who is the longest-running science-fiction television show in history. The old (or Classic 1963-1989) Doctor Who series built up a loyal American cult following with regular conventions and other activities. The current series, featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, is breaking all earlier records, in both the UK and the US. More

On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein (HarperCollins) Written over the last 18 months of his life and inspired by his interest in G. E. Moore's defense of common sense, this much discussed volume collects Wittgenstein's reflections on knowledge and certainty, on what it is to know a proposition for sure.

Wittgenstein's On Certainty: There - Like Our Life by Push Rhees, edited by D. Z. Phillips ( Wiley-Blackwell)

Rush Rhees, a close friend of Wittgenstein and a major interpreter of his work, shows how Wittgenstein's On Certainty concerns logic, language, and reality – topics that occupied Wittgenstein since early in his career.
  • Authoritative interpretation of Wittgenstein's last great work, On Certainty, by one of his closest friends.
  • Debunks misconceptions about Wittgenstein's On Certainty and shows that it is an essay on logic.
  • Exposes the continuity in Wittgenstein's thought, and the radical character of his conclusions.
  • Contains a substantial and illuminating afterword discussing current scholarship surrounding On Certainty, and its relationship to Rhees's work on this subject.

Readings of Wittgenstein's On Certainty edited by Daniele Moyal-Sharrock , William Brenner (Palgrave Macmillan) is the first collection of papers devoted to Ludwig Wittgenstein's cryptic but brilliant On Certainty. This work, Wittgenstein's last, extends the thinking of his earlier, better known writings, and in so doing, makes the most important contribution to epistemology since Kant's Critique of Pure Reason--a claim the essays in this volume help to demonstrate. The essays have been grouped under four headings, reflecting current approaches to the work: the Framework, Transcendental, Epistemic, and Therapeutic readings. More

Mind That Abides: Panpsychism in the new millennium by David Skrbina (Advances in Consciousness Research: John Benjamns Publishing Company) Panpsychism is the view that all things, living and nonliving, possess some mind like quality. It stands in sharp contrast to the traditional notion of mind as the property of humans and (perhaps) a few select ‘higher animals’. Though surprising at first glance, panpsychism has a long and noble history in both Western and Eastern thought. Overlooked by analytical, materialist philosophy for most of the 20th century, it is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts in several areas of inquiry. A number of recent books - including Skrbina’s Panpsychism in the West (2005: MIT) and Strawson et al’s Consciousness and its Place in Nature (2006: Imprint Academic) - have established panpsychism as respectable and viable. Mind That Abides builds on these works. It takes panpsychism to be a plausible theory of mind and then moves forward to work out the philosophical, psychological and ethical implications. With 17 contributors from a variety of fields, this book promises to mark a wholesale change in our philosophical outlook. More

The Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek (Short Circuits: The MIT Press) is his most substantial theoretical work to appear in many years; Zizek himself describes it as his magnum opus. Parallax can be defined as the apparent displacement of an object, caused by a change in observational position. Zizek is interested in the "parallax gap" separating two points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by an "impossible short circuit" of levels that can never meet. From this consideration of parallax, Zizek begins a rehabilitation of dialectical materialism. More

Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think! Edited by Gary L. Hardcastle, George A. Reisch (Popular Culture and Philosophy: Open Court) From the 1970s cult TV show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, to the current hit musical Spamalot, the Monty Python comedy troupe has been at the center of popular culture and entertainment. The Pythons John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam are increasingly recognized and honored for their creativity and enduring influence in the worlds of comedy and film. Monty Python and Philosophy extends that recognition into the world of philosophy. Fifteen experts in topics like mythology, Buddhism, feminism, logic, ethics, and the philosophy of science bring their expertise to bear on Python movies such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Flying Circus mainstays such as the Argument Clinic, the Dead Parrot Sketch, and, of course, the Bruces, the Pythons’ demented, song-filled vision of an Australian philosophy department. Monty Python and Philosophy follows the same hit format as the other titles in this popular series and explains all the philosophical concepts discussed in laymen’s terms. More

A Companion to Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy) edited by A. P. Martinich, David Sosa (Blackwell Publishers) (Paperback) is a comprehensive guide to over 40 of the significant analytic philosophers from the last hundred years. The entries in this Companion are contributed by contemporary philosophers, including some of the most distinguished now living, such as Michael Dummett, Frank Jackson, P. M. S. Hacker, Israel Scheffler, John Searle, Ernest Sosa, and Robert Stalnaker. They discuss the arguments of influential figures in the history of analytic philosophy, among them Frege, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, and Quine. The articles on each philosopher provide clear and extensive analysis of profound and widely encountered concepts such as meaning, truth, knowledge, goodness, and the mind. This volume is a vital resource for anyone interested in analytic philosophy. More

Analytic Philosophy: An Anthology edited by A. P. Martinich, David Sosa (Blackwell Philosophy Anthologies: Blackwell Publishers) This substantial anthology comprises the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of readings in analytic philosophy of the twentieth century. It provides a survey and analysis of the key issues, figures and concepts. The volume is divided into seven sections: philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, free will and personal identity, ethics, and methodology. It includes the most familiar texts of the analytic tradition, as well as several others that are less often anthologized. Several articles are logically related to each other. For example, Moore's Four Forms of Skepticism, appears together with selections from Wittgenstein's On Certainty; Langford's discussion of the paradox of analysis and Moore's reply are both included; and Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism is paired with Grice and Strawson's In Defense of a Dogma. More

The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony by Leigh Gilmore (Paperback) (Cornell University Press) Memoirs in which trauma takes a major--or the major--role challenge the limits of autobiography. Leigh Gilmore presents a series of "limit-cases"--texts that combine elements of autobiography, fiction, biography, history, and theory while representing trauma and the self--and demonstrates how and why their authors swerve from the formal constraints of autobiography when the representation of trauma coincides with self-representation. Gilmore maintains that conflicting demands on both the self and narrative may prompt formal experimentation by such writers and lead to texts that are not, strictly speaking, autobiography, but are nonetheless deeply engaged with its central concerns.

In astute and compelling readings of texts by Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Dorothy Allison, Mikal Gilmore, Jamaica Kincaid, and Jeanette Winterson, Gilmore explores how each of them poses the questions, "How have I lived? How will I live?" in relation to the social and psychic forms within which trauma emerges. Challenging the very boundaries of autobiography as well as trauma, these stories are not told in conventional ways: the writers testify to how self-representation and the representation of trauma grow beyond simple causes and effects, exceed their duration in time, and connect to other forms of historical, familial, and personal pain. In their movement from an overtly testimonial form to one that draws on legal as well as literary knowledge, such texts produce an alternative means of confronting kinship, violence, and self-representation.
Leigh Gilmore is Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University. She is the author of Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Self-Representation.

Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture by Jens Brockmeier, Donal A. Carbaugh (Studies in Narrative, Volume 1: John Benjamins) The focus of this book and the series is constructing human identity. Editor’s summary: This theoretical landscape of narrative study provides a background upon which the scope of the essays presented in this volume can be located. The essays included here set out to focus on one particular issue: the relationship between narrative and human identity, and the question of how we construct what we call our lives and how we create ourselves in the process. All authors of this volume share the conviction that the question of what type of construction is at stake here, can neither be separated from the question of what type of identity is being created in this construction, nor isolated from the question of the cultural and historical context of this construction. They also share the assumption that these questions are productively engaged from the perspective of narrative. Moreover, some of the papers in this book set out to show that such a complex and fleeting construction as human identity‑the self in time ‑ can only exist as a narrative construction. Without the narrative fabric, it seems difficult to even think of human temporality and historicity at all.
The study of narrative, thus, appears to be not just one sub‑discipline among others, one that is particularly helpful for our understanding of the twists and turns of human identity. There is a deeper, philosophical point about the relation between narrative and identity. We believe the essays of this volume demonstrate that narrative proves to be a supremely appropriate means for the exploration of the self or, more precisely, the construction of selves in cultural contexts of time and space. What these studies ultimately suggest is that the very idea of human identity ‑ perhaps we can even say, the very possibility of human identity‑ is tied to the very notion of narrative and narrativity.
We have divided the papers of this volume into three parts. The first part introduces a number of theoretical perspectives on the problem of narrative and self-construction. The chapters of the second part explore particular life stories in their cultural contexts, presenting the distinct worlds of a Blackfeet man, a woman who survived breast cancer, and the fictional and real heroes of collective American identity narratives. In the third part, essays focus on specific issues, empirical and theoretical, of autobiographical memory and narrative identity, studying self-accounts (fictional and non‑fictional) by a composer, a scientist and philosopher, writers, and painters. A summary commentary sets out to sketch a little colloquium among the authors, outlining several questions for further inquiry.
In the first chapter of the first part, Jerome Bruner offers a view of the autobiographical process as a process of narrative self‑making. Like all other aspects of "worldmaking"‑a notion Bruner borrows from philosopher Nelson Goodman‑self‑making (or "life‑making") depends heavily upon the symbolic system in which it is conducted, its opportunities and constraints. Bruner explores these symbolic systems as cultural constructions, focusing especially on the construction of autobiographical life narratives. He lists a number of features that characterise modern life stories, discussing several examples drawn from natural and literary autobiographies. Against this backdrop, Bruner brings to the fore a strange contradiction: While the self is regarded, in Western ideology, as the most private aspect of our being, it turns out on closer inspection to be highly social and discursively negotiable. To study autobiographies, in this view, involves not only examining the cultural construction of personal identity, but also the construction of one's social culture.
All studies of this book draw heavily upon particular notions of narrative. Brockmeier and Harre's chapter can be read as an introduction into narrative as a new model for the human sciences. They argue that the increasing interest in the study of narrative and its cultural contexts reflects the emergence of another strand of postpositivist method in the social sciences. Drawing on socio‑ and psycholinguistics as well as on literary and philosophical studies, Brockmeier and Harre offer a working definition of narrative that differentiates it from other patterns of discourse. In discussing various examples, they highlight some of the qualities that have made the study of narrative such a productive approach. But they also identify some theoretical difficulties and possible dangers of which, they believe, students of narrative should be aware. The understanding of narrative that is outlined in this essay lays a strong emphasis on its fleeting character and its particular discursive embededness, qualities, the authors argue, that make it particularly appropriate for investigating the dynamic patterns of human identity.

 In his chapter, Rom Harre explores how narrative can structure both singularities and multiplicities of self. His central thesis builds upon a notion of the self as three‑fold: "self‑1" being a context of perception, "self‑2" being a context of reflection, and "self‑3" being a context of social interaction. Harre points out that "self‑1" and "self‑2" are generally singular, with "self‑3" being generally plural. These ideas are being applied to the analysis of two prominent narratives about humans and human identities: One conceives of persons as neuro‑material entities, the other understands persons as psycho‑moral actors. Examining the limitations of both views, Harre proposes their integration within a tool‑task narrative frame.
In their study,`Freeman and Brockmeier claim that one's identity, insofar as it is tied to the interpretive appraisal of one's I personal past as it takes place in autobiographical narrative, is inseparable from normative ideas of what a life is, or is supposed to be, if it is lived well. They call these ideas conceptions of the "good life", drawing attention to the fact that the narrative construction of identity not only has a psychological, social, and aesthetic dimension, but also an ethical one. In discussing distinct cultural and historical genres of life narratives from Greek Antiquity, Christianity, Modernity, and Postmodernity, the essay suggests that, whatever the specific form of the autobiographical process, it will inevitably be conditioned by some notion of narrative integrity. This notion unavoidably encompasses both an aesthetic and an ethical dimension. The authors argue that cultural ideas of the "good life" will affect the degree of narrative integrity that inheres in the stories people tell about their lives and, ultimately, in their identities.

Donal Carbaugh's chapter presents an ethnographic narrative that is based upon the analysis of several oral texts. The main concerns of his study are to show how the oral texts are embedded in a specific cultural meaning system, and how such narrative can be understood and analyzed in culturally sensitive ways. Carbaugh's analyses are focused primarily upon a narrative told by a Blackfeet, Native American man, Rising Wolf. The study points out how the particular event in which Rising Wolf's story was told influences its structure; how that structure implies a particular view of history, memory, and identity; and how the deeper meanings and significance of that structure are dependent not only upon physical places, but also upon a system of cultural discourse that includes ritual, myth, and social drama. As the narrative activates this system of expression, it demonstrates how intercultural dynamics and cultural preservation, as well as resistance, can be managed today by traditional Blackfeet people.

Carol Fleisher Feldman begins her exploration of group‑defining stories by noting a key difference between narratives`that students tell about their work in New York theatre groups. She wondered how dramatically different stories could be told about seemingly similar life worlds. Her analysis treats narratives as cultural patterns that can be conceived of as cognitive genres for creating and interpreting experiences. The same is true, she argues, for narratives of extended cultural communities such as nations. National identity narratives are a special case of a "group defining story". By examining historical themes in American national narratives, from the plots of the romance and the quest, she proposes several properties of national identity narratives. Feldman's essay shows that national identity narratives, like all group narrative, can provide basic forms through which personal autobiographies gain shape and meaning.

Kristin Langellier examines a series of narratives told by a ten‑year survivor of breast cancer. During her ordeal, the survivor, Rhea, has confronted several potent cultural events, in addition to the cancer, radiation treatments, and surgery‑ all of them, as the essay points out, are deeply embedded in cultural discourses of gender and ethnicity. Rhea responded, in part, by getting a tattoo on her mastectomy scar, writing over the "writings" of cancer and surgery. Langellier's chapter analyzes Rhea's story as a "performance of identity" that moves from the lack of agency in getting breast cancer to the forceful agency of getting a tattoo on her scar. Five segments of Rhea's account are transcribed and analyzed for their individual and cultural meanings, features of performance, and verbal strategies. Langellier argues that Rhea's narrative performance of identity holds transformative potential for the cultural discourses of tattoo and breast cancer. 

Jerome Sehulster investigates the "historical truth" and "narrative truth" of an important episode in Richard Wagner's autobiography. In his Mein Leben (My Life), the composer recounts a wonderful creative "vision" experienced at La Spezia, Italy, in early September 1853. Ever since, Wagner's vision has been referred to as a pivotal event in the extended drama of the creation of his epic four opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Examining Wagners' autobiographical writings, letters, and other historical documents, Sehulster finds amazing discrepancies and contradictions. A detailed analysis of the account of Wagner and other contemporary documents leads to the conclusion that Wagner invented and elaborated the autobiographical account of the vision to present himself, in hindsight, to others as the Genius and Artist, as described by philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, whose work Wagner encountered a year after La Spezia. However, Sehulster argues, the reinterpretation or even "rewriting" of an autobiographical experience does not necessarily lack "narrative truth". The account of the vision, like many other accounts in Mein Leben, is far less a historical document than a mythical narrative of self presentation. It is part of Wagner's personal myth, which supports a major component of his identity.
In his study on Jean Piaget's self accounts, Jacques Vonehe deals with a particularly interesting case of multiple autobiographical identities. The famous Swiss psychologist wrote, during his long life, several life narratives. In each of them he presented himself in different ways and on different scenes to different audiences. The comparison among these different life narratives is revealing. In all of his autobiographies, as the study shows, Piaget is both the same and different: The facts are the same, the anecdotes are similar, but the outcome is entirely different. Autobiography, for Vonehe, is an enormously flexible genre of Selbstdarstellung (self presentation). It varies according to the target audience in function of which the plot of a life and an identity is fashioned. Focusing on two wide‑spread autobiographies of Piaget, Voneche aims at pointing out the different interactions among actor, scene, plot, and audience. Facing different scenes and cultural target‑audiences, Piaget changes hats and intellectual identities. This is all the more striking, since the "scientific" Piaget presented himself as a developmental theorist for whom individual development is the explanatory factor in epistemology and psychology.

 Brockmeier's essay tackles three themes. First, it raises the problem of reference in autobiography: Who is the author, the teller of the story, and who is the self behind or in this discourse? Is there a self, or one self, at all? Second, it examines the commonsense view that the (auto)biographical gestalt of a life is circumscribed by a natural development from the beginning to the end. This view is closely associated with what Brockmeier calls the "retrospective teleology" of life narratives, the fact that a life, if told in hindsight, seems to have been lived towards a goal, a telos. The third theme is the vision of time and temporality that emerges in autobiographical narrative. The authors argue that human identity construction is essentially the construction of a particular mode of time, "autobiographical time", the time of one's life. To explain his arguments, he discusses the "visual narratives" of paintings, reading examples of portraiture as life narratives. In doing so, the essay makes the point that the history of art since the Renaissance offers a genre of (auto)biographical painting that is not only a fascinating form of pictorial life narrative, but also allows for insights into the nature of the autobiographical process.

 In the final chapter, Mark Freeman offers a critical reading and summary discussion of the preceding chapters. He identifies four basic dimensions that are involved in the various explorations into the relationship between narrative and identity presented in this volume: the historical, cultural, rhetorical, and experiential or poetic dimension. In focusing on some key concepts that emerge from the discussion of these dimensions ‑ "autobiographical consciousness", "narrative imagination", and "narrative connectedness" ‑ Freeman suggests seeing the identity of the self as a unique narrative style, a style embodied in our life narratives. Taking this idea one step farther, he argues that there is a form of "literariness" that is in a distinct sense built into the fabric of life. Viewed in this way, the question of identity and narrative merges into the question of life and narrative. In fact, as Freeman concludes, we might speak of the poetic dimension not only of the narrative construction of identity, as it takes place in autobiographical narrative, but of experience itself.

Communicative Praxis and the Space of Subjectivity by Calvin O. Schrag (Philosophy/Communication: Purdue University Press) This perceptive introduction to Continental pragmatic interphase in communication theory does an adminerable job od summary and concise formulation as well as creating an informed critique of communicative inquiry. Schrag  at his best.

The entwinement of explorations in the fields of philosophy and communica­tion is already clearly visible in the three-dimensional format that directs the discussion throughout the volume. The amalgam of communication and praxis has been designed to orient reflection on discourse and action as being about something; as being initiated by someone; and as being addressed to and for someone. These interstitial moments display a referential moment disclosing a world of nature and culture; a moment of hermeneutical self-implicature, index­ing a decentered subject as speaker/author/agent; and a rhetorical moment in which discourse and action are seen as directed to an engaged interlocutor. These three moments comprise the binding texture of communicative praxis.

The amalgam of discursive and nondiscursive practices that textures the events of communicative praxis provides both critical and restorative strategies. In its posture of critique it dismantles certain traditional theories of reality, rationality, and reference. As restorative it recovers a meaning-laden space of linguistic and social practices in which the human subject dwells. This restored subject is neither a metaphysical substratum nor an epistemological center. Reinserted into the folds of communicative praxis, the subject is called into being in the guise of a decentered subjectivity, displaying a dialogical rather than a monological con­sciousness. This portrait of the subject as an emergent within the conversation and social practices of humankind is then seen as inviting a turn to a hermeneutical rhetoric and a refigured humanism that preserves the moral texture of human thought and action.

The three structural moments of reference, self-implicature, and rhetoric prominently display overlapping interests in the ventures of philosophy and communi­cation studies. The economy of communicative praxis is stimulated by the forces of philosophical analysis and interpretation coupled with an acknowledgment of the transactional dynamics in the rhetoric of the ongoing community of inves­tigators and concerned citizens. The art of thinking, which philosophers by the mandate of their tradition have been called upon to develop, proceeds hand in glove with the contextualization of thought in the polis, emerging from the rough and tumble of everyday social and political interactions.

The philosophical prejudice of modernity, restricting epistemological space to that of an insulated and interiorized thinking subject needs to be aggressively problematized. Increasingly we have become aware of the vagaries of the modern epistemological protocols of representation, correspondence, and identity that travel with the invention of mind as ego-cogito, functioning as zero-point origin of all knowledge. We are now in position to see knowledge as very much a social and communicative affair. Recent developments in philosophy and rhetoric alike have uncovered a space for the reinsertion of the thinker and her thoughts into the density of a revitalized communicative experience, calling the world's attention to the social and institutional sources of knowledge as it is displayed`in interac­tive discourse and action.

In the wake of the deconstruction of the isolated epistemological subject of modernity in search of a terrain that might provide unshakable foundations for knowledge, a new space appears on the horizon. This is a space textured by the discourse and action of a decentered and self interpreting agent that finds itself always in the presence of other agents, involved in collaborative projects of self understanding and social action. The insinuation of the other as interlocutor and respondent within the narratives of knowledge is inescapable. Communication is veritably constitutive of the event of knowing. The myth of modernity, with its portrait of the self as a knower who first knows and then at some later date, circumstances permitting, decides to communicate that which it knows to a generalized other, needs to be demythologized. The enabling of knowledge and communica­bility are twin moments within a more primordial space of self and world involve­ments. The tasks of philosophy and communications studies converge in the explorations of this primordial space.The discussion that follows is about communicative praxis and about subjec­tivity. It comprises an effort to find a new space for subjectivity within the praxial space of discourse and action. The texture of communicative praxis is portrayed as an amalgam of discursive and nondiscursive practices, in which the meaning-engendering patterns of the spoken and the written word mix and mingle with meaning-laden actions. The inmixing of discourse and action, however, does not warrant a fusion of them through some species of sublation of the one into the other. Neither the textuality of the spoken and the written word nor the intention­ality of action is allowed a status of privilege and primacy. An effort is made to avoid both the modeling of human action after textual analogues and the model­ing of language after forms of human behavior. Thus the claim for primacy, either from the side of a philosophy of language or from the side of a philosophy of action, is undermined.

The proposed notion of communicative praxis, which supplies the linchpin for the discussion throughout, takes shape as a three-dimensional or tripartite phenomenon. Discourse and action are about something, by someone, and for someone. Communicative praxis thus displays a referential moment (about a world of human concerns and social practices), a moment of self-implicature (by a speaker, author, or actor), and a rhetorical moment (directedness to the other).

The division of the book into three parts roughly corresponds with these three moments that bind the texture of communicative praxis. The topical design in the three divi­sions is to work out plausible notions of hermeneutical reference, hermeneutical self-implicature, and hermeneutical rhetoric.

Through an exploration of the texture of communicative praxis a new space is cleared for the restoration of the subject. This exploration involves first an exer­cise of critical hermeneutics, developing as a strategy of deconstruction through which the metaphysical and epistemological space of traditional philosophy of the soul and modem philosophy of mind is disassembled. This disassemblage heralds the "end of philosophy" as conceptual construction and the "death of the subject" as metaphysical substrate and epistemological origin. But it also sets the requirement for a restorative hermeneutics wherewith a transvalued subject is resituated within a new space. After the theoretical constructs of metaphysico­epistemological space are dismantled, the path is cleared for the restoration of subjectivity within the praxial space of discourse and action. The parameters of this praxial space already mark out the presence of the other, displayed in a rheto­ric of discourse and a rhetoric of action. The subject that reappears is a decentered and transfigured intersubject, co-emerging with other subjects, courting new de­scriptions for a new humanism that might in some way direct us in an age in which the philosophical constructs of traditional humanism have ceased to hold our attention.

There are no heroes in the story of communicative praxis that Schrag tells. There are, however, throughout the discussion intermittent critical conversations with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, Husserl and Heidegger, James and Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty and Foucault, Ricoeur and Gadamer, Habermas and Apel, and Derrida and Rorty—to name but the most prominent of his interlocutors. Admit­tedly, some of these fare better than others, but they all contribute to the conversation and have a voice in conjugated authorship. As a result of this multifaceted conversation the story of communicative praxis ranges over the familiar terrains of phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory, linguistic philosophy, structuralism, and deconstruction. But there is no philosophical position-taking recommended in the end. The format is geared to a probing of interrelated topics in recent thought as they pertain to the integrating thematic of communicative praxis without aspirations to either a perennial philosophy or a laying of the foundations. If it were the appropriate place for a prayer, Schrag’s prayer would take the form of a petition to be delivered from yet another philosophical "ism"! In all this there is admittedly some species of "end of philosophy" thinking at work, particu­larly as it pertains to philosophy construed as a special body of knowledge that provides the foundational principles for all other bodies of knowledge, a theoretical reconstruction of knowledge in general. This portrayal of philosophy as a special and privileged body of knowledge has been associated with the longstanding portrait of the philosopher as a surveyor of all time and existence, somehow privy to a godlike perspective on the nature of things. In the text that follows, such a portrayal of philosophy and such a portrait of the philosopher are brought under suspicion. If pressed for a one-liner, Schrag replies that his intention is to tell the story of praxis and subjectivity at the end of philosophy thusly construed.


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