By Paul Jay
From Emerson to Rorty, American feedback has grappled in a single means or one other with the matter of modernity—specifically, how one can ensure serious and cultural criteria in an international the place each place turns out the made of an interpretation. half highbrow historical past, half cultural critique, this provocative ebook is an attempt to shake American suggestion out of the grip of the 19th century—and out of its contingency blues.
Paul Jay focuses his research on strands of yankee feedback. the 1st, inclusive of Richard Poirier and Giles Gunn, has tried to restore what Jay insists is an anachronistic pragmatism derived from Emerson, James, and Dewey. the second one, represented so much forcefully by way of Richard Rorty, has a tendency to lessen American feedback to a metadiscourse concerning the contingent grounds of information. In chapters on Emerson, Whitman, Santayana, Van Wyck Brooks, Dewey, and Kenneth Burke, Jay examines the old roots of those positions, which he argues are marked by way of recurrent makes an attempt to reconcile transcendentalism and pragmatism. A forceful rejection of either forms of revisionism, Contingency Blues locates another within the paintings of the “border stories” critics, those that provide our curiosity in contingency a brand new, extra concrete shape via taking a extra old, cultural, and anthropological method of the discovery of literature, subjectivity, group, and tradition in a pan-American context.
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Extra info for Contingency Blues: The Search For Foundations In American Criticism
Copyrighted Material 38 Modernity and Nature in Emerson The idealist "concedes all that the [materialist] affirms, admits the impressions of sense, admits their coherency, their use and beauty, and then asks the materialist for the grounds of assurance that things are as his senses represent them" (193, emphasis mine). From the transcendentalist's point of view, the materialist cannot "ground" his assurance; for him the world of visible reality is only a world of appearances, it has no ground without recourse to a transcendental one.
The shift Foucault locates in Kant's "attitude" is a shift from metaphysics to metacriticism. Arguing that his own historical moment is marked by a shift from faith to reason and critique, Kant formulates a methodology that reasons about and critiques the conditions of its own status as a philosophical discourse. This metacritical attitude, in Foucault's view, virtually defines modern thought as a mode of philosophical interrogation based on "a permanent critique of our historical era" (42). Written "at the crossroads of critical reflection and reflection on history," Kant's essay on the Enlightenment is in Foucault's view "a reflection ...
While deconstruction undermines the legitimacy or groundedness of all discourses, its own legitimacy is undermined, in Gunn's view, by its failure to apply deconstructive principles to its own discourse. If it did, he insists, we would see that deconstructive critiques are as unstable and arbitrary as those that they critique. " The way through it, insists Gunn, is not via the "direction of some deinterpreted or uninterpretable surd of signs, as the deconstructionists presumably suggest, nor in the direction of some reinterpreted or overinterpretable system or [sic] signifiers, as the semioticians sometimes argue" (62).
Contingency Blues: The Search For Foundations In American Criticism by Paul Jay