Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Reader is Warned

"The reader is warned," writes Francis Jacques without a jot of irony, "that he or she will not find ideas or analyses that can be isolated and used in other contexts; the meanings of such ideas would suffer if they were detached from the book's overall trajectory, which covers questions taken in part from the rapidly developing field of the linguistic of utterance and in part from literary criticism, but also from psychoanalysis and theology" (Difference and Subjectivity, p. xxiii).

There's evidently a duality within the philosopher's image of himself as a speaker of philosophy. He decontextualizes and at the same moment, in the manner of a Heraclitus I guess, he doesn't decontextualize.

Will this work for me in the context of a blog post? Let's see. Jacques imagines that philosophy "remains rooted in the resources of everyday language, which is the universal metalanguage. The aim of philosphers is to articulate an interpretation of their experience as a whole. They attempt to bring about a process of semantic extension within various domains of ordinary discourse. Their own difficultiy is how to put forward a coherent and overdetermined interpretation of experience using a set of interdependent metaconcepts" (pp.xxiii-xxiv, my bold).

Do I just blithely skip over the part where philosophers are radical empiricists—would that it were true—in order to talk about (metaconceptual) gatekeeping? The reader is warned. . . . The reader is suddenly aware of culture of reading that allows for such things as warnings from the author along the way. Or charities. It could be otherwise, it occurs to me. Now, as thinkers, then, if we're really alive to our whole experience as readers of texts, then shouldn't we have acquired some basis for charitable writing, that is, writing that doesn't bar the way? Should lucidity of a certain kind—lucidity of love?— be a part of one's enculturation into the whole world thing of the philosophical text?

And now I'll put the shoe on the other foot. I assume that we know, you and I, gentle reader, that a more charitable reading of Jacques than the one suggested above is called for. Indeed any text given to us in some way as a work of philosophy (like a work of music, with that same ontic ambivalence, an existence in "performance" or "utterance" broadly conceived and at the same time not localizable within that in), any such philosophical text cautions charity. Or precautions? Have we begun to read when we have read the preface? At what point is the entire trajectory of the book apparent to us? When can we begin to read in good conscience?

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Fido the Yak at 8:06 PM.


Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page