The following text has been automatically reproduced by an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithm. It may not have been checked over by human eyes. For matters of precision please consult the original pdf.

72 Reviews

REVIEWS
Paradise postponed
David Schweickart, Against Capitalism, Cambridge and Paris, Cambridge University Press and Editions de la Maison
des Sciences de I’Homme, 1993. xiii + 387 pp., £40.00 hb., 0 521 41851 8.

Despite a dismal economic performance since its
resurgence in the late 1970s, it is currently fashionable to
be for capitalism. Throughout the Western democracies
the self-styled ‘progressive’ parties have been busily
ditching that ‘utopianism’ which had audaciously
declared socialism to be an alternative to capitalism in
favour of a ‘realism’ conceding that socialism is after all
capitalism, but with a difference: better managed and (a
bit) nicer (,Barbarism or Blairism’). Capitalism’s worldhistorical victory, proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama in
1989, had been punctually confirmed by the collapse of
the Soviet bloc later that same year: liberal-capitalism
would never cease to be victorious, the time had come to
abandon our dead to their own devices. But there is, of
course, rather more to contemporary capitalism than ‘The
Victory of the VCR’: in the ‘First World’ an unabated
explosion of poverty, demoralisation, homelessness and
unemployment; in the ‘Second World’ a similar tragedy
following swiftly and inexorably on the heels of a farce
(not the revolutions themselves, but the arrival of the
management consultancy firms); and, of course, in the
‘Third World’, ‘history’ – provisioned with Western
loans and Western arms – is set to persist in the all-tootangible form of civil wars, colossal debt, ruthless
exploitation, destitution and famines. All this to be set
against the disarming honesty of Steven Rockefeller, as
quoted by Schweickart: ‘There is no justification for my
family having the amount of money that it has … the
only honest thing to say in defence of it is that we like
having money and the present social system allows us to
keep it.’

As Schweickart recognises, an uncharacteristic
encounter with the facts of the matter will not awaken
capitalism’s supporters from the’ illusion of our epoch’

to the long overdue confrontation with their failed God,
nor will it secure a reliable redoubt from which to launch
the detour back through ‘history’ and towards the – or
even a – victory for socialism. Three crucial tasks now
confront those still unpersuaded of capitalism’s triumph.

Firstly, the arguments of those political theorists who
have contended that capitalism is beyond contempt

34

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

regardless of its consequences require to be defeated:

the locus classicus ofthis position being Nozick’ s highly
influential, and deservedly infamous Anarchy, State and
Utopia. People, it is argued, have rights – including
property rights – which are not to be violated to secure
even bloody marvellous consequences. Capitalists
acquire their property quite legitimately through the
cultivation and exercise of commendable timepreferences – ‘abstinence’ – and a heroic determination
to shoulder our common risks for us (Steven Rockefeller
take note). Being for justice, then, we are bound to be for
capitalism: abolishing property is theft. Schweickart’s
assured demolition of such ‘noncomparative’

justifications of capitalism contains little that is new, but
he offers a first-class review and discussion of the central
points.

The second task is a more difficult one. If we are to
stand against capitalism we must, it is here argued, find
somewhere to stand: cookshops, after all, cannot cook
much that is worth eating until they have been provided
with recipes. Capitalism’s apologists – not to mention
the remnants of what was once the European left continue to resort to a familiar strategy: however bad
things are, ‘There Is No Alternative’ (happily for the
Right; unfortunately for the Left). Schweickart’s central
preoccupation is therefore to propose and defend an
alternative – a form of market socialism (,Economic
Democracy’) with four central features: abolition of
private property in the means of production; a market
economy for raw materials and consumer goods; a
democratically-controlled investment fund raised
through taxation; and worker-management of all medium
and large-scale enterprises. Having defined Economic
Democracy in this way, he proceeds to argue that it is the
most viable form of socialism, and that it would be a
very significant improvement upon laissez-faire,
Keynesian, and post-Keynesian forms of capitalism.

Laissez-faire capitalism is incapable of delivering full
employment; undermines consumer sovereignty;
misdirects economic growth; alienates working people;
is economically unstable; restricts liberty; and

undermines democracy. Of course, all this may be
thought by some to be a price well worth paying to defeat
the scourge of inflation. Leaving aside cost-benefit
analysis, Schweickart points out that inflation was the
totem of ‘voodoo’ economists, not only because Reagan
was stupid – which he undoubtedly was – but also
because Reagan was astute: inflation hurts (well-off)
lenders and helps (badly-off) borrowers. Economic
democracy, then, would be a huge improvement on
laissez-faire capitalism, and also upon the kind of ‘fair
capitalism’ (allegedly) exemplified in the writings of
John Rawls – which stands condemned on a similar
indictment. Schweickart’s arguments here are
painstakingly developed with close reference not only to
the dynamics of (mercifully) non-mathematical models,
but also to the available empirical evidence. For example,
in the original debate concerning market socialism – in
the 1930s – Hayed had been forced on the defensive by
the rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union; Cuba has
maintained a level of economic growth and social
provision unparalleled throughout Latin America
(despite the best efforts of the USA); China is coming
close to eliminating ‘absolute’ poverty just as it is being
rediscovered in a ‘liberalised’ Eastern Europe; and the
economic performance of Yugoslavia – the most
significant experiment to date with market socialism had been truly remarkable right up until the 1980s
(between 1952 and 1960 Yugoslavia had the highest
growth rate of any country in the world).

Moreover, Japan and the East Asian Tigers have
achieved ‘economic miracles’ somewhat more
convincing than the Lawson or Reagan booms on the
basis of massive state intervention. In Japan, such
intervention has been combined with lifetime
employment guarantees for workers; wages tied to
seniority; regular bonuses indexed to profits; and a high
level of worker participation in the decision-making of
their companies. In so far as capitalism can boast of any
genuine successes, it has been a capitalism that has kept
its teeth and claws unbloodied, and has rather more in
common with ‘Economic Democracy’ than with the
laissez-faire project that was spectacularly failing
elsewhere. Schweickart’s comparative arguments will
not all be convincing to everybody, but they are
consistently engaging and important, and often
persuasive too.

The third task is the most daunting: even if Economic
Democracy – or any other form of socialism – were both
materially possible and clearly desirable, there remains
the problem of achieving the transition from capitalism
to socialism. Neither police forces, armies, newspaper
barons, foreign governments, the IMF, nor international

speculators are likely to lie down and die in the face of a
few carefully argued defences of socialism. Schweickart
– unlike many recent defenders of market socialism does engage with this problem, although what he has to
say here is rather less convincing. In the advanced
capitalist countries, such a transition could be effected
by the simple expedient of passing four laws, nor would
this result in any significant economic dislocation: the
next day there would be fewer commuters disembarking
in the City of London (and those who did would be in for
a nasty surprise), but most of us would carry on much as
before. Schweickart concedes that this is not really ‘on
the horizon’! Instead, he gestures towards current
proposals and developing institutional structures which
might, with some conjunctural assistance, converge into
a powerful movement for reform: the success of
cooperatives; the rejection of macho-management in
favour of the ‘team concept’ (yuk!); the prospects for a
revitalised labour movement; the possibility of
introducing both restrictions on international capital
flows and measures to block international wage
competition; and the trend towards democratic
imposition of non-market investment priorities (in
particular, environmental controls). Schweickart finally
concedes that none of this provides socialists with any
grounds for an excess of optimism: even if such a
movement were eventually to take shape, it would
confront some powerful and wealthy opponents. Who,
then, might be the agents of the risky and protracted
political struggle required to defeat this opposition? Not,
it appears, a revolutionary (or even a socialist voting)
working class: that class – or any coalition of classes – as
agent, if not as beneficiary, of epochal social transition is
more or less abstract from his book – presumably on the
grounds that Schweickart believes it to be more or less
absent from history having been effectively neutralised
by easy access to VCRs.

Doubtful of Economic Democracy’s prospects in the
advanced capitalist countries, Schweickart proceeds to
consider the prospects for socialism in the ‘Second’ and
‘Third’ Worlds. While ‘economic democracy’ might be
a viable model for the development of the LDCs, he
concedes that, where people are not sure or getting
anything to eat, command socialism may be an even
better option. The reconstruction of the countries of
Eastern Europe holds out the best prospects for a
transition to market socialism – John Roemer,
incidentally, takes the same line in A Future for Socialism
(1994). Accusations of a lack of realism from
capitalism’s apologists would ring pretty hollow here,
given their own hallucinatory ‘modernisation’ strategies.

Market socialism is certainly more promising than the

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

35

‘impossible project now being attempted: creating ex
nihilis, capitalist institutions, capitalist values and a
capitalist class’ (‘Barbarism or Baloney’). This optimism
is revealing, pointing up the recognisably Fabian flavour
of Schweickart’s project. Reform will – at least in the
first instance – be under the direction of a technocratic
elite charged with the construction of a rational and just
society. Political and economic vacuums attract social
engineers: as the lunatic right flies out of Eastern Europe
(or is thrown out, as in Lithuania, Poland and Hungary),
the liberal-Left flies in. So, the transition to economic
democracy is not on the immediate horizon in the First
World; is possible, but not necessarily optimal, in the
Third World; and is a real prospect in an Eastern bloc
eternally cast in the role of international capitalism’s
weakest link.

This is an important book and should be required
reading for anyone still inclined to stand against
capitalism. Schweickart offers the most detailed and
accomplished recent defence of market socialism, and
even those unconvinced by the case for Economic

Democracy will find much here that is worthwhile. Three
things are particularly commendable. Firstly, a wealth of
empirical evidence has been marshalled in defence of
the central arguments (footnotes are worth the trouble).

Secondly, this is an angry book (all too rare in
contemporary Marxist and socialist political
philosophy): if its pages do not actually burn with
indignation, they consistently smoulder with it. Thirdly,
Schweickart – despite having started out as an assistant
professor of mathematics – resists the temptation to
baffle us (or, at least, to baffle me) with vectors and
graphs. The obsession with mathematical logic amongst
contemporary Anglophone Marxist philosophers – in the
name of ‘clarity’ no less – has too often placed debate
over crucial issues beyond the reach of all but an initiated
few. Schweickart’s model of Economic Democracy,
then, compares favourably with capitalism. Whether this
sort of comparative assessment will have much impact
upon the dynamics of current and prospective political
developments is, of course, an entirely different matter.

Mareus Roberts

The music of ordinary language
Stanley Cavell, A Pitch ofPhilosophy: Autobiographical Exercises, Cambridge MA and London, Harvard University
Press, 1994. xv + 196 pp., £20.75 hb., 0 674 66980 O.

The three lectures contained in this book form the latest
steps in the progress of Stanley Cavell’ s life-long attempt
to inherit the work of Wittgenstein and Austin for
philosophy in America. The first recounts certain
passages of Cavell’ s biography, focusing on his relations
with his parents and the ways in which he left home and
came to dedicate his life to philosophy rather than music;
in the second, he attempts to revise the story of Derrida’ s
encounter with ordinary language philosophy by
responding to ‘Signature Event Context’ otherwise than
Searle, in a tone he considers more genuinely authorized
by that of his first teacher, Austin; in the third, he
discusses fragments from a number of operas, claiming
to hear in the female voice thus set to music versions of
the despair and hope ignited by a perception that the
world as it stands neighbours one which, in its furthering
of justice and authentic individuality, constitutes at once
a rebuke and an attraction. The sequence as a whole is
framed by an overture, concluding acknowledgements
and a set of epigraphs from Gershom Scholem that firmly
locates it in Jerusalem – the place of the lectures’ original
delivery, the ground of a distinctively Jewish mysticism,
and a site verging upon both the Eastern and the Western
worlds. As is increasingly the case with Cavell’s recent
work, a familiarity with the broad outlines of his earlier

36

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

writings is, if not essential, then at least mightily helpful·
in appreciating the deeper reasons for what may
otherwise appear as a startling and obscurely motivated
conjunction of topics and texts within and between the
book’s chapters. I will try to sketch in some elements of
this backdrop, whilst looking at the lectures in reverse
order.

‘Opera and the Lease of Voice’ knits together two
strands in Cavell’ s previous work – his identification of a
dimension of moral thinking which he has labelled
‘Emersonian Perfectionism’, and his characterization of
a film genre that he calls ‘The Melodrama of the
Unknown Woman’. Moral perfectionism pictures the self
as doubled or split between an attained state and an
unattained, but attainable, state that constitutes a further
development of its personal (and so its moral) powers.

The split is ineradicable (each unattained state, once
attained, can be seen to neighbour a further, unattained
one), the balance between the two halves is delicate (if
one does not eclipse the other, it is eclipsed by it), and
the goal of continuously striving to attain one’s
unattained self can be decisively helped or hindered by
the interventions of society and its members. In the film
melodramas, Cavell finds women whose attained state is
typically – sometimes unbreakably – enforced by the

men (and women) they encounter, but who
1’35” ++ 2’05”
l’ 55″ ++ 2′ 25″
sometimes find it possible to refuse such
~
conformity even in the absence of a man (or a
woman) capable of attracting them to nonconformity. In this lecture, Cavell finds their
2’05” ….. 3’05”
2’45” ….. 3’45’~
sisters to be everywhere in opera – to the point at
15
which he is prepared to claim that film (of this
and related kinds) is or was our opera, that opera
transformed itself into film. His guiding idea is
that opera, with its distinctive conception of the
3’20” ++ 4’35”
4’10” ….. 5’25”
8
relation between voice and body contesting the
parallel emphasis on relations between character
and actor that are central to the ontology of
theatre and film, thereby establishes a distinctive
mode of representing the male need and fear of
the female voice, a voice that makes manifest
5’10” ….. 5’55”
5’40” ++ 6’55”
the perfectionist dimension of language and
thought and whose fate (variously appropriated,
1
suffocated and liberated) therefore figures the
fate of the human capacity (integral to men and women
such in sights are traceable in the lineaments of (our life
alike) for self-overcoming.

with) ordinary language. In so doing, Cavell enacts his
‘Counter-Philosophy and the Pawn of Voice’ is by conviction that the voice he wishes to return to
far the longest and the most self-contained of these philosophy is opposed to that of metaphysics rather than
lectures, and constitutes the most sustained treatment being an effect of it, and that the ordinariness of its
Cavell has yet given of the relations between his version
natural language encompasses structures of figuration,
of ordinary language philosophy and deconstruction. His
issues of politics and morality, and reaches of implication
first book, with its questioning of the border between
going beyond personal decision. What he contests at
philosophy and literature and its diagnosis of a concern every point is the idea that these extraordinary
for the presence of the world in sceptical doubts about its complexities take meaning beyond ordinary human
reality, suggested affinities with Heidegger and Derrida;
acknow ledgement.

and later work – on Romanticism, psychoanalysis and
‘Philosophy and the Arrogation of Voice’ confronts
politics – seemed to confirm these thematic and head-on the objection most often made to the tone of
methodological links. But his equally persistent reliance
Cavell’s philosophical voice – its seemingly unremitting
upon ordinary language, and his characterization of his
reference to (at once equated with display of, and thence
work as an attempt to restore the human voice to
with indulgence of) self. In part, this is simply a function
philosophy, just as strongly suggested fundamental
of the increasingly complex and idiosyncratic path of his
disagreements. Here, Cavell demonstrates how deeply
thinking; without constant reference to, and elucidation
these mutual affinities and repulsions run. Unlike Searle,
of, his earlier writings, the point of his later work is
Cavell is sensitive to the fact that every term relevant to
increasingly hard to discern. Most fundamentally,
the debate between Austin and Derrida – intention,
however, it is a function of what he takes the method of
context, communication, and so seemingly endlessly on
ordinary language philosophy to demand. In so far as
– is contested; and he respects Derrida’s project enough
this depends upon recalling ‘what we say when’,
to wish to elicit from Austin’s text answers to – rather recounting the criteria of words held in common, it
than dismissals of – the questions he poses. But in the
necessarily embodies the presumption that a claim
course of providing them, Cavell shows that what
grounded in the speaker’s imaginings of what he or she
Derrida treats as suspicious exclusions from Austin’s
would say and do can be representative or exemplary of
account of speech acts (the phenomena of excuses and of any and all other speakers, and so of the human condition
‘non-serious’ utterances) are in fact dealt with in detail
as such. In other words, ordinary language philosophers
elsewhere in Austin’s work, that these detailings add up
ground their authority to speak for others in
autobiography (rather than logic or intelligence or
to a profoundly perceptive (if significantly skewed)
purity); modes of self-reference, or self-reliance,
portrayal of the fact that human life is constrained at once
to the life of the body and the life of the mind, and that empower everything they do. And the claim Cavell

B

8

B

B

Ra die a I Ph if 0 sop h y 72 (J u I Y / A u 9 u S t 1995)

37

makes in this lecture reiterates this insight at the level of
philosophical method: if the basis of his claim to be
speaking for others concerning the criteria of ordinary
words is and can only be autobiographical, then the same
must be true of his claim to be speaking for philosophy
in so doing. In other words, if his claim to be speaking as
a philosopher in speaking this way is itself to be
philosophically well grounded, its basis must also be
autobiographical; the features of his life that led to his
inheritance of this method as exemplary of philosophy
as such must themselves be exemplary of what it is to
inherit philosophy, to live a life of which philosophy is
the condition.

And Cavell’ s opening autobiographical exercise
ultimately delivers just such a set of conditions conditions including that of arrogating the right to
authorize his own existence by intercepting the
conversation of his parents and translating their words
by finding a version of perfect pitch. The way in which
these findings are meant to enable critical as well as
clinical insights is perhaps best exemplified in Cavell’ s

presentation of Austin’s telling examples as the
philosophical transfiguration of his father’s story-telling
skills and his mother’s perfect pitch. This is intended not
just to account for his own conversion to ordinary
language philosophy, but also to elucidate the balance
between male and female registers of language and
thought that (his version of) ordinary language
philosophy at once draws upon and advocates. The
autobiographical frame of these three lectures
accordingly embodies the implicit claim that the multifaceted nature of the material they contain, as well as
that of the earlier work from which they are derived,
manifest a unity that is of philosophical interest as well
as personal significance. The book as a whole thus aims
to make it as clear as possible that Cavell cultivates rather
than represses the uniqueness of his tone of voice,
precisely in order to test philosophically whether there
are any limits to the commonness of humanity; and it
challenges those of its readers who are repelled by that
tone to test whether their repulsion is of anything more
than clinical interest.

Stephen Mulhall

Much ado about difference
Cornel West, Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America, New York and London, Routledge, 1993. xvii + 319
pp., £19.99 hb., 0415 904862.

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London and New York, Routledge, 1994. xiii + 285 pp., £35.00 “hb.,
£11.99 pb., 0415 01635 5 hb., 0415 054060 pb.

One of the essays in Cornel West’s miscellaneous
collection Keeping Faith discusses the dilemma of the
black intellectual in contemporary North American
society, caught between the white bourgeois academy
and the parochial discourses of African American
intellectual life. It describes three models to be rejectedthe bourgeois humanist, the Marxist and the postmodern
– and a fourth, the ‘insurgency model of the black
intellectual as critical organic catalyst’, which it
advocates. This model recuperates elements of the
discarded ones, and roots them in ‘the specificity of
African American life and history’ (there is an abundant
rhetoric of specificity in West’s writing), to create an
intellectual praxis which is ‘particularist though not
exclusivist – hence … international in outlook and
practice’ . Slippages of this kind also abound. The catchall vagueness of this favoured model matches West’s
own untheorized eclecticism in these reviews and essays
of a decade or more. As a social commentator he is often
sharp, but as a theorist he lacks rigour or system. There is
certainly nothing in these pieces to justify intellectually
the dismissal of the three models he sweeps aside to clear

38

R a die a I Phi I 0 sop h y

72 (J u I Y / A u g u S t

1 9 95)

the ground for what is little more than an idealized
description of his own intellectual practice. Moreover, to
put it bluntly, the book displays symptoms of the
bourgeois type he dismisses – ‘the intellectual as star,
celebrity, commodity’. Tell-tale signs include the fluent
but numbingly repetitive recycling of the same few ideas
for almost any occasion, and the incessant listing of the
names of intellectual confreres as a substitute for the
specificity he rhetorically proclaims. There is no doubt
that the subject to which he repeatedly returns – the
alienation of contemporary black intellectuals from
politics – is important and troubling. West’s description
of this condition is clear and pointed. But these essays
take us no further.

From this side of the Atlantic the missing term in
West’s discourse is post-coloniality. This category,
however contested, would offer West an escape from the
essentialist implications of many of his arguments. It
would, for example, enable him to bridge his insistence
on African American cultural forms as the basis of his
insurgency model, with his parenthetical concession that
a black infrastructure for intellectual activity should

include persons of any colour as a prelude to the
emergence of new cultural forms in a ‘post-Western
civilization’ .

Homi Bhabha is one of the most sophisticated
theorists of post-coloniality. One of the epigraphs to his
The Location of Culture is from a Johnny Mercer song’Don’t Mess with Mister In-be-tween’. This can also
serve as a warning to readers. Bhabha is the Professor of
In-be-tween. The key terms of his own discourse are
marginality, hybridity, ambivalence, indeterminacy.

Another of his epigraphs is from Heidegger: ‘A boundary
is not that at which something stops but … that from
which something begins its presencing.’ For Bhabha, the
epistemological limits of the ethnocentricity which
characterizes Western cultures have, in these postmodern
times, become ‘the enunciative boundaries’ of a
mUltiplicity of dissonant and dissident histories and
voices – women, the colonized, minority groups, those
with policed sexualities. It is here, from between the
cracks in the pavement (‘interstices’) that our cherished
concepts of homogeneous national cultures, consensual
historical traditions, organic ethnic communities and so
on are being undermined. This rests on a distinction
increasingly important in Bhabha’s recent essays
between culture as epistemological object and
enunciatory site. Attempting to understand culture as the
latter is a ‘liberatory discursive strategy’, based on a
recognition that ’emergent cultural identifications are
articulated at the liminal edge of identity’, within that
arbitrary closure, that so-called ‘unity’, which Western
cultures propound. This, in turn, is part of Bhabha’ s long-

term attempt to break down the rigid self/other
distinction while avoiding the merely inverted polarities
of a counter-politics of exclusion. There is a persisting
commitment in all the essays which make up this book to
‘erase the politics of binary opposition’.

Bhabha goes about his task with a bewildering
mixture of sophistication and naivety. The complexity
and ambition are undeniable. From within the field of
colonial discourse studies he has continued to worry
away at the central problems bequeathed by its founding
text, Edward Said’s Orientalism. And from within the
related but distinct field of post-colonial theory, he
engages with postmodernism and its problematic relation
to radical politics. The naivety is political. Bhabha’s
wide-eyed and excited listing of transgressive discourses
which unsettle the liberal ethic of tolerance, and the
pluralist framework of multiculturalism, recalls Walter
Benjamin’s enchantment, in the 1930s, with the
revolutionary potential of cinema and writing letters to
the newspaper. Like Benjamin, Bhabha seriously
underestimates the way in which such apparently
transgressive discourses are sidelined or incorporated.

Bhabha writes that although the ‘great connective
narratives of capitalism and class drive the engines of
social reproduction’, these cannot, in themselves,
provide a frame for ‘those modes of cultural
identification and political affect that form around issues
of sexuality, race, feminism, the lifeworld of refugees or
migrants, or the deathly social destiny of AIDS’. If only
capitalism and class were really so helpless. Bhabha
looks out on a different world from the one I see, in which
the insistence on homogeneous national cultures, and the
racism and exclusivity which follow from this, are
overwhelming, and the kinds of challenge mounted by
the liberatory discourse Bhabha celebrates depressingly
inadequate. The politics of cultural difference are
altogether more urgent, and the position of the migrant
far more desperate than this volume ever begins to
recognize. For many people the position of ‘in-between’

is life-threatening, and their fragmented identities are the
sign of damage rather than of discursive possibility. To
say this is not to fall into the binarism of theory and
politics which Bhabha deplores. It is rather to point to
another example of the disturbing political blindness of
much critical theory in this century.

What Bhabha does repeatedly is to set up a kind of
Whiggism in which the ethnocentric certainties of the
past are being marvellously dissolved by the
indeterminacies of the present. He manages to do this
because of the primacy he accords to discourse. The
central Marxist proposition that social being determines
consciousness is inverted. Bhabha’s position is that we

R a die a I P h if 0 sop h y 72 (J u I y / A u 9 u S t 1 9 9 5 )

39

are constituted by discourse. It follows therefore that
challenges to dominant discourses can seem to have the
power of a mobilized class or the Red Army. Bhabha, of
course, would answer this absurd charge by emphasizing
the dialectical nature of such relationships and their
consequent indeterminacy. Butthis is to beg the question.

Consciousness starts somewhere, and to deny the
primacy of social being is to reproduce in different form

the orthodox liberal ideology against which Bhabha’s
project is directed. If the Enlightenment values upon
which liberal ideology is based are rejected wholesale
(in yet another counter-politics of binary oppositions),
rather than seen as radically incomplete, then it is no
wonder that postmodernism is left playing with itself,
while diversity and difference are systematically being
eliminated outside – and inside – the academy.

Rod Edmond

The future of the past
Malcolm Bowie, Psychoanalysis and the Future of Theory, Oxford and Cambridge MA, Blackwell, 1993. x + 162
pp., £35.00 hb., £11.90 pb., 0631 189254 hb., 0631 189262 pb.

Teresa Brennan, History After Lacan, London and New York, Routledge, 1993. xv + 239 pp., £35.00 hb., £10.99 pb.,
0415 011167 hb., 0415 01117 5 pb.

Millennial thinking takes many forms, amongst them a
concern with theorising the future and making sense of
the past. The tools for doing this are few: what is needed
is something that can articulate the relentless
unknowability of the future – its status as something
constantly producing but never solid – yet give solace
that it may be connected with what we already know,
may not be totally alien to us. The two texts reviewed
here, in differing ways, try to do precisely this, by turning
to psychoanalysis. That is, they try to employ
psychoanalysis as an object of scrutiny and as a tool for
unravelling what may be on its way – they try to learn
some lessons from the past to project forwards into the
future.

Malcolm Bowie’s elegant series of lectures is the
more successful of the two enterprises, perhaps precisely
because its lucidity and stylistic beauty make it
compelling and enchanting reading. He takes us through
a series of engagements with psychoanalysis, mostly
Freud but with a Lacanian gloss and an explicit
discussion of Lacan in the first lecture. These
engagements range from an explicit discussion of the
attitude of psychoanalysis to the future, to explorations
of the way psychoanalysis and the artistic consciousness
intermingle to offer some hope or grasp on imagination.

It is the imagination, in particular, that seems to offer a

way forward for us as we approach the year 2000,
uncertain about how to rescue some optimism from the
fading landscape of destruction. There are very few
certainties around, so imagining some ‘elsewhere’, some
alternative patterns of being, is all we can do.

Bowie is most tuned in to the ironic pessimism to be
found in Freud and Lacan, the way they reproduce in
their writing a sense of the impossibility of ever knowing
anything, of ever having meaning in one’s grasp. In this
way, the parallels between the future and the strucrures
of the unconscious, and of knowledge, are irrefutable.

Compare, for example, these two passages from Bowie’ s
book. The first is a description of Lacan’s viewpoint on
the human subject of history:

For the subject, the present is not later than the past
and not earlier than the future, because the present
is the continual bringing into contact of past
meanings that can be restructured but never shed
and future meanings that can be restructured but
never actualised.

The second quotation
unconscious, which, as

concerns

the

Freudian

the unappeasable spectre at every communicative
feast, prevents meaning from reaching fullness,
completion, closure, consummation. Meaning is to
be had in psychoanalysis only intermittently, as a
momentary purchase achieved upon a constant
interplay of levels, systems, structures, registers,
intensities and investments. Psychoanalysis is a
theory of meaning not simply arrived at and
grasped, but dawning and expiring, still out of sight
and already on the wane.

The lyric beauty of this writing is itself a form of contact

40

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

with the past, a modernist sensibility at work evoking the
doom-laden structures of our constant search for
fulfilment and rest. These things cannot be, warns Bowie:

psychoanalysis reveals the way the future-imagined-asideal is really a refusal to face up to the past, and it shows
how the constant slipperiness of the unconscious calls
into question any claim to mastery or knowledge of what
one is or can become. In this latter perception, it should
be noted, is revealed the shadow of Lacan.

Bowie points to an ambiguity in Freud’s thinking on
the unconscious, between a reductionist search for causes
and a celebration of the endless transformative
possibilities of unconscious functioning. This is related
to a further complementary division, between the
unconscious as a causal mechanism erupting from time
to time into everyday perception and behaviour (an
image of revolution), and a view of the unconscious as
‘the underlying condition of all mental acts, operating
uninterruptedly and without regard for the individual’s
declared goals’ . Bowie presents this latter contrast in the
context of an appraisal of the links between
psychoanalysis and the music of, first, Mahler (eruption)
and, second, Schoenberg (continuity). These two parallel
contrasts can also be seen as alternative responses to the
millennial consciousness: this something may come, the
big unspeakable, to turn our world upside down; or that
that something is already to be found inside us, and is
endlessly playful, provocative, and transformative. The
analytic tools offered by psychoanalysis to make sense
of the various experiences which this way of thinking
conjures up can be applied helpfully to art and to
philosophy, as Bowie applies them. But their strongest
feature is to offer us a way into imagining things anew,
so that we can begin to face them in all their awful and
exciting productivity.

The great strength of Bowie’s little book is its
demonstration of the fecundity and surprisingness which
continue to reside in psychoanalytic thinking, achieved
in no small part by the way psychoanalysis is used nonreductively to create a closer engagement with artistic
experience. It is hard to be as positive about Teresa
Brennan’s book, which is portentous and laboured. But
then her subject matter is the grand scheme of the social
and the economic, and it is perhaps appropriate to be
grimmer and more complex when faced with these
things. In away, Brennan addresses the difficulty of her
book in a brief preface devoted to the difficulty of writing
in the ‘propositional mode’ – putting forward something
new – as opposed to recasting the views and perceptions
of others. Holding onto a new thought – concentrating
for long enough – has become more and more
problematic as what Brennan terms ‘the ego’s era’ has

developed, so it is perhaps not surprising that a mostly
‘propositional’ book should be hard to read. Whether this
is the entire explanation for its difficulty, I am not sure,
but this is at least a viable interpretation of what that
difficulty might express.

Brennan’s main proposition, her ‘Thesis I’, is of the
existence of a ‘foundational fantasy’:

The subject is founded by a hallucinatory fantasy
in which it conceives itself as the locus of active
agency and the environment as passive; its
SUbjectivity is secured by a projection onto the
environment, apparently beginning with the
mother, which makes her into an object which the
subject in fantasy controls.

This fantasy is quintessentially a Western one, linked
with the imperialistic imperative of Western technology
which it predicates, but upon which it feeds. It is illusory
for all the reasons which Derrida has adduced, and
operates subjectively through the projective processes
adumbrated mainly by Melanie Klein in the context of
an account of the infant’s relationship to the mother’s
body. In turn, Lacan’s theory of the ego and its
objectifying characteristics makes it clear how the
subjective phantasmatic arena of control of the other can
be translated into a historical process of territorial
advancement and metaphorical and real enslavement of
others – fixing the other in a constrained space as a way
of dominating and living out the foundational f~ntasy that
the subject is the centre of all things.

What prevents this account from being limited to
another deconstructive examination of the false
premisses upon which the Western subject is produced is
Brennan’s idea (her Thesis 4, in fact) that there is really
a ‘foundation before the subjective foundation’ – but that
this is social and political in form. A good deal of her
book is devoted to following this up by exploring the
interchanges between political economy and
SUbjectivity, as well as teasing out the political
consequences of the foundational fantasy’s development.

As Brennan notes, her political economy is ‘speculative’,
but then the importance of imagining something different
is where we began.

In some respects, the most engaging and human parts
ofBrennan’s propositional account are its implicit appeal
for more connection between people, and the way she
makes the subject/object boundary evaporate by
incorporating all of nature into her thinking on
exploitation. There is a political programme to be found
here; it takes some effort to unearth it, but no one said
that the next millennium will be easy.

Stephen Frosh

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

41

Not all said and done
Toril Moi, Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman, Oxford and Cambridge MA, Blackwell,
1994. xii + 324 pp., £40.00 hb., £12.99 pb., 0631 146733 hb., 0 63119181 X pb.

This fascinating and finely wrought study works in a
variety of ways to achieve multiple ends. It is a most
timely political intervention on Beauvoir’s behalf,
affording a judicious review of her critical reception that
acts as a powerful plea to feminism to reconsider
currently suppressed or marginalised aspects of her
utopian aspiration. It offers an ambitious and thoughtprovoking psychoanalysis of its subject, in which the
evidence of the ‘real’ life and of both its official and
fictional versions are neatly counterposed. But it is also
the most contextualised portrait of Beauvoir produced to
date, firstly because it so fully situates her career in the
social and intellectual history of her time, and secondly
because it is the first full-length appraisal of her
contribution to be conducted in the light of the feminist
critique of philosophy to which she herself pointed the
way.

Here we are offered a moving, if often disturbing,
account of Beauvoir’s bid for personal coherence in a
culture profoundly opposed in its modes of thinking and
desiring to the idea that a woman could conjointly be
both intellectually and sexually compelling (and
needing). It is all the more poignant because we cannot
but be retrospectively aware of how far Beauvoir’ sown
struggles with this patriarchal schizophrenia have helped
to relieve us today of some of its more absurd and cruel
constraints on subjective integration. Whatever the
weaknesses of her analysis of the female condition, and
however distressed, even repelled, we may be by some
of her personal responses to that condition, if women in
the West today are no longer confronted by the
frustrations of her dilemma to anything like the same
degree, we owe it in large measure to Beauvoir’ s resolute
assertion – in her life as in her work – of the equal rights
of women unthinkingly to be both thinking and sexual
subjects.

But this is also a portrait of a figure who is caught in
the patriarchal trap she helps to spring: who intellectually
subscribes to many of the conceptions of gender
difference by which she is emotionally circumscribed,
and who continues to write the text of philosophical
sexism which for the first time she begins to make
legible. Moi reveals to us a Beauvoir of whom we might
say that she could not see what she had seen, could not
view her own life history as in many ways repeating the
story of philosophy’s dominance and masculinity even
as she delivers such a telling challenge to the supposed

42

R a die a I Phi I 0 sop h y 72 (J u I Y / A u 9 u S t 1 9 9 5 )

universalism of its narrative. Thus, although she opens
the dialogue between feminism and philosophy, in being
deprived of the benefit of its subsequent discussions, she
remains in an important sense product and victim of a
too little troubled patriarchal conscience.

One way, in fact, of viewing Moi’ s book is as a
continuous engagement at a number of abstract and
formal levels with the essential problem of which Angela
Carter’s question might be said to be the irreverent
metaphor. ‘Why is a nice girl like Simone wasting her
time sucking up to a boring old fart like J-P?’ Her work
opens with an extended perusal of why it is that Beauvoir
so readily embraces Sartre’s demolition of her argument
in the famous encounter in the Luxembourg Gardens,
yields ‘philosophy’ up to him in the selfsame process in

which she gains him as a lover, and settles for her
‘secondary’ status in regard to him. For, as Moi ably
shows, in terms of her own achievements at that point
Beauvoir had no objective reason to place herself below
him. Nor is it clear, Moi suggests, that we should view
her subsequent writing as any the less astute than
Sartre’s, reliant though it obviously is upon his prior
production of its existentialist framework. Juxtaposing
the description in L’Invitee of Fran<;oise's 'seduction' of
Gerbert to Sartre's illustration of the woman's 'bad faith'

in the cafe ‘flirtation’ scene in Being and Nothingness,
Moi makes out a good case for viewing Beauvoir in her
fiction as having more to say about ‘freedom’ and
‘authenticity’ than her philandering partner ever dreamt
of in his philosophy. And when she turns in some of the

most substantial chapters of her book to the argument of
The Second Sex, it is to reveal something of the same
conundrum of Beauvoir’s willing subordination of
herself/the ‘feminine’ to Sartre/’philosophy’ in the form
of its central paradoxes: that the greatest anti-patriarchal
text reads like the work of a dutiful daughter bent on
pleasing her father; that its perceptive account of
femininity functions as a foil to what amounts to little
more than mindless admiration of masculinity; and that
it is hampered throughout by its imitation of Sartrean
categories which it had perforce, albeit almost
unconsciously, to rew6rk and correct as a condition of
their serving in the task she had embarked upon.

Yet it would be mistaken to imply that Moi is staging
some competition for intellectual honours between Sartre
and Beauvoir, with a view to transferring the crown to
the latter. Her interest is not in feminist point-scoring,
but in revealing the extent to which Beauvoir’s relations
with Sartre were emblematic of her relationship to the
‘master’ discipline of philosophy, and of her idealisation
of masculinity. The central aim of her study is to explore
the sources in Beauvoir herself of these dispositions,
while at the same time unravelling some of their more
paradoxical features by relating these to the social and
sexual asymmetries of her positioning. Under the first
aspect, she offers a psychoanalysis of Beauvoir as formed
in reaction to her mother, whose overly appropriative and
suffocating presence in her childhood she in a sense
‘kills’ off as a condition of finding her voice as a writer,
but whose internalised presence within herself remains a
continuous threat to her stability throughout her life: a
siren call to abandonment, self-abjection and engulfment
within the most passive and shameful forms of
‘feminine’ dependency. Under the second, she explores
in detail the differential conditions to which she was
subject – in upbringing, in education, in the reception of
her work – by virtue of being a member of the ‘second’

sex in an intellectual climate tailored to the ‘first’.

In a work as complex as this, there are bound to be
points of detail one will want to contest. To mention but
one: while Moi deals brilliantly with the sexism of
Sartre’s illustration of ‘bad faith’ , she is surely mistaken
in presenting him as attempting to prove the possibility
of lying to the self, rather than the reverse. What seemed
lacking here was proper recognition of the extent to
which the account of ‘bad faith’ is offered as a challenge
to the Freudian picture of the psyche as that of a subject
who, impossibly but necessarily, must be capable of
lying to the self. This smaller point connects to some
larger methodological questions about the compatibility
of psychoanalytic and existentialist approaches to the
‘making’ of the person, and to the interpretation and

promotion of a feminist politics. But if Moi’s book does
not directly discuss this ‘question of method’ and its
implications for personal agency and political freedom,
it constantly and most illuminatingly confronts us with
their tensions in a biography which is triumphantly
dialectical and marvellously readable.

Kate Soper

Backwards and
forwards
Andrew Bowie, Schelling and Modern European
Philosophy: An Introduction, London and New York,
Routledge, 1993. x + 211 pp., £37.50 hb., £1l.99 pb., 0
415 103460 hb., 0415 103479 pb.

It makes a change to read a book on Schelling in English.

Mind you, it makes a change to read a book on Schelling,
which only goes to bear out Andrew Bowie’s diagnosis:

the relati ve neglect of Schelling’ s work is due to its being
widely seen as the arcane and idiosyncratic product of a
less notable contemporary of Hegel. Indeed, think of
almost any book on Hegel, and Schelling figures as an
early influence, until the Phenomenology of Spirit is
discussed, whereupon Hegel’s younger coadjutor is
summarily demonstrated to have shot the absplute from
a pistol or to have drowned the concept in the night in
which all cows are black. Perhaps it is poetic justice then,
that, in a book on Schelling, Hegel should be allotted
only a brief appearance in Chapter Six.

Bowie’s book is not a monograph on Schelling, nor
is it about Schelling’s undoubted influence on the postHegelian generation, from Feuerbach and Marx through
to Kierkegaard and Bakunin. (Indeed, the author does
not even mention the Bakunin connection, as if to keep
Schelling’s anarcho-existentialism well under wraps,
along with his theology.) It is an introduction to
Schelling’s work and its actuality, maintaining both that
he is (or should be) central to our understanding of
European philosophy, not just in the immediate Hegelian
aftermath but right up to the present day, and that his
thought has accrued a new relevance, in the light of
contemporary ‘post-metaphysical’ thinking in the
analytic and Continental traditions.

What Bowie does, with considerable tenacity, is to
wade more or less chronologically through the whole
gamut of Schelling’ s work, pointing out the thematic
continuity. This is quite a feat, since Schelling was an
infant prodigy, who lived nearly as long as Goethe, and
was notoriously impatient with his own projects, which

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

43

were legion. Nonetheless, the crucial difference with
Hegel is present, now implicitly, now explicitly, in all of
Schelling’s work. The difference consists in a single
problem. Is reflection a self-grounding self-relation, one
which, as Hegel contends, can be made intelligible from
its own resources; or is, as Schelling insists, reflection
always insufficient unto itself and in need of a prior, prereflective (hence also un- or pre-conscious) ground.

Clearly Bowie sides with Schelling and he cites an
impressive array of authorities, from Sartre to Davidson,
to add weight to his claims. But whilst Bowie, in tune
with Manfred Frank’s thesis in Der Unendliche Mangel
an Sein (1975), is persuasive on this issue, I doubt
whether the position against which he is arguing has such
wide currency nowadays, even amongst Hegelians.

To take three different contemporary thinkers
working in the Hegelian tradition – Habermas (who,
Bowie claims, has a Hegelian solution to the reflection
problem), Theunissen and Pippin – it is precisely because
they reject Hegel’s error in trying to ground absolute
spirit in the reflexive act of a monadic self-consciousness
that they have developed their reconstructions of Hegel,
as a philosopher of intersubjectivity, of communicative
freedom, and of transcendental idealism respectively.

Although Bowie’ s book is intended to be expository
rather than critical, it seems to me that his claim about
the hitherto unrecognised centrality of Schelling’s
thought in modem European philosophy must stand the
test, not just of a critical confrontation with Hegel’ s logic
of reflection, but with the traditions of philosophy
(especially transcendental philosophy) which have arisen
from the legacy of Hegel’ s Kant critique. Bowie only
gestures at a critique of Habermas in the final pages and
seems to regard Kant’s epistemology (like Hegel and
Schelling did) as crude transcendent realism.

The actuality of Schelling’s thought turns out to be
something of a poisoned chalice. Bowie convincingly
shows that Schelling was more acutely aware than any of
his generation of the danger of reducing the ‘otherness’

of nature to the ‘identity’ of spirit or mind. Yet in his
anxiety to distance Schelling from post-Heideggerian
critics of ‘metaphysics’ and sUbjectivity on the one hand,
and from an all too Hegelian modem philosophy of
reflection on the other, Bowie puts Schelling in an
invidious position. What the latter gains in terms of
centrality and significance to the tradition of modem
European philosophy, he forfeits in (paralipomenic)
actuality and vice versa. Responding to this difficulty,
Bowie turns to the sturdy work of Donald Davidson and
Hilary Putnam in order to show how Schelling’s theory
of reflection anticipates elements of a ‘postmetaphysical’ philosophy of language but does not yet

44
ii

U

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

amount to the post-rationality of Rorty or Derrida. Thus
one of the author’s central claims – that Schelling’s
thought has acquired a new relevance – comes to rest
upon the analogy between contemporary postempiricism and Schellingian idealism. I am unconvinced
that the analogy can bear the burden. For Schelling’s
proto-existentialist notion that there must be a prereflective and, by extension, pre-propositional grasp of
existence E~ apXll<; is a far stronger monistic claim than
Davidson's fragile marriage between mental anomalism
and the identity of physical and mental events. More
work has to be done to make good the contention that the
difference between the two positions is one of degree not
quality.

The success of Schelling and Modern European
Philosophy rests on Bowie’s ability to render
bewilderingly complex Schellingian formulations in
plain English and to sketch out arguments in terms which
will be familiar to someone with a knowledge of
contemporary thought but no expertise in German
Idealism. It succeeds as an introduction to Schelling. I
am not convinced that it succeeds as an introduction to
modem European philosophy in the way in which the
author intends. Sometimes, Bowie claims, we have to go
back to go forwards, by which he means back to
Schelling. Somehow one fears the phrase ‘back to the
pre-reflective familiarity with oneself’ is not going to
catch on amongst post-metaphysical philosophers. I hope
I’m wrong.

Gordon Finlayson

Dangerous
philosophies
Dan W. Brock, Life and Death: Philosophical Essays in
Biomedical Ethics, Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press, 1993. xi + 435 pp., £40.00 hb., £13.95 pb., 0 521
41785 6 hb., 0 521 42833 5 pb.

Anne Maclean, The Elimination of Morality: Reflections
on Utilitarianism and Bioethics, London and New York,
Routledge, 1993. x + 219 pp., £35.00 hb., £10.99 pb., 0
41501081 0 hb., 0415095387 pb.

These are two very different books on the same subject.

Brock’s text would be valuable for any course in medical
ethics, containing as it does a collection of challenging
essays on a range of problems. Maclean’ s book, however,
is about the very idea of medical ethics, and the
plausibility of philosophy departments offering courses
to health-care professionals.

Philosophers, argues Maclean, cannot teach moral
expertise, because there is no such thing. She does not
deny that there can be rational answers to moral
dilemmas, but does deny that for any moral question
there will be one right answer that can best be revealed
through philosophy. To the extent that any medical ethics
course claims to teach moral expertise, it is a fraud.

Philosophers nevertheless have a valuable role.

Philosophy’s task is to offer a critique of medical
ideology, a scientific reductionism that reduces people to
machines for whom the only relevant need is efficient
functioning. Philosophy should contribute to the ethical
recovery of medical science, and this process should be
the principal objective of health-care ethics. Courses that
offer moral ‘expertise’ are a positive danger, in that they
will re-enforce the power of the medical elite, giving
them another ‘expertise’ they can use to silence ordinary
people.

Brock sees the danger too. Commenting on his
experience serving on the President’s Commission for
the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine, he argues
that there is a serious conflict between the goals of
philosophical activity and public policy-making. The
goal of scholarship is the discovery of truth – scholars
follow arguments wherever they lead, without regard for
the consequences. The impotence of academics means
they need not be morally concerned with the social
consequences of their work: philosophers can propose
policies that would be greeted with public outrage, safe
in the knowledge that the public will rarely come across
their work. Philosophers who move into the policymaking domain, however, must take more care. Brock
saw his role on the commission as persuasion and even
manipulation of the commissioners, to ensure they
arrived at the least-worst policy, even where that meant
presenting only half of an argument in case the policymakers misinterpreted the whole.

Philosophers teaching health-care professionals face
the same danger. Maclean makes the point that it is one
thing to say to other philosophers that the lives of infants
are at our disposal, but another to say it to people
responsible for the care of infants. It seems that
philosophers who teach medical ethics perform a
challenging and dangerous task.

However, Maclean’s book is predominantly a
critique of the main position in medical ethics, which she
terms ‘bioethics’, especially its approach to the question
of the value of life. This position holds that the most
valuable lives belong to persons, because only persons
are beings capable of desiring to continue their existence.

In practice, persons are beings with rational selfconsciousness. Anything that lacks this capacity cannot

be morally wronged by being killed.

This has serious implications for infants and people
in persistent vegetative states (PVS), as they do not count
as persons according to this approach. Brock argues that
the severely demented are also not persons and therefore
have no claim to resources needed to sustain life. The
severely demented lack personhood because they have
lost the capacity to see themselves as self-conscious
individuals persisting through time. They therefore
cannot have the desire to continue living, and cannot be
morally wronged by being killed.

This is not to say that the severely demented have no
rights to medical care – they have the right to measures
that treat them with dignity, out of respect for the person
they once were. But here Brock gets himself into
difficulties. The original claim was that only rational selfconscious beings have valuable lives that merit moral
respect, but Brock allows that the former possession of
rational self-consciousness is morally significant too.

This also applies to the dead. Brock observes that the
bodies of the dead must be treated with dignity respecting
the persons, and the persons’ wishes, whose bodies they
once were. Now Brock has brought in respect for the
wishes of the ex-person – but if the dead can have
interests based upon the wishes of the person they once
were, then so can the severely demented and PVS
patients.

If a person expressly wished that they should not have
treatment withdrawn if they become severely demented
or in a persistent vegetative state, this is a morally good
reason not to withdraw treatment. If they expressly
wished that they be actively killed if they were to rapse
into such a state, this is a morally good reason to kill
them. That is not to say that the wishes of the patient are
morally binding, but they must carry some moral weight,
especially if we value autonomy.

Maclean insists that all human beings have equal
value, but this does not commit us to saying that
euthanasia or infanticide are always wrong: the decision
to end treatment for, or to kill, another human being must
be based upon moral respect for that being.

According to the bioethical approach, we resolve
moral dilemmas by showing that they are not dilemmas
at all. We can switch off the life-support machine of a
PVS patient because their continuing life has no moral
significance. But switching of the life-support machine
remains a tragedy for the human being involved and for
those closest to them. It is this blindness to moral tragedy
that Maclean finds most disturbing about the bioethical
approach.

This is perhaps her most important message. At a time
when the cost of medical care is under political scrutiny,

Ra die a I Ph

if 0

sop h y 72 (J u I Y / A u g u S t 1 9 95)

45

it is important to stress that problems in health care are
moral issues, not merely issues of efficiency. If the
bioethical approach has the effect of making moral
dilemmas disappear, then Maclean is right that it is not
merely philosophically muddled, but also dangerous.

Phillip Cole

Dying properly
Jacques Derrida, Aporias, translated by Thomas Dutoit,
Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1993. x + 87 pp.,
£25.00 hb., £9.95 pb., 0 8047 2233 1 hb., 0 8047 2252 8
pb.

This is the text of Derrida’s paper to a conference on ‘Le
Passage des Frontieres’ held in 1992. At least three types
of border limits are explored: cultural borders,
disciplinary borders, and conceptual borders in general.

The reader is treated to some of Derrida’ s most ingenious
manoeuvrings as these types are gathered together. The
issue through which Derrida works his web is the
question of the humanity/animality distinction as it
pertains to Heidegger’ s analysis of the death of the entity
that ‘we’, the questioners, are: the death ofthe entity that
Heidegger calls Dasein.

Through a reconsideration of a variety of ‘discourses
on death’, from Seneca to modem anthropology, Derrida
argues that the major traits of Heidegger’s analysis are
prefigured in traditional ways of thinking. With a
welcome lack of pathos, Derrida describes this tradition
as one captivated by the idea that humanity has lost sight
of the truth about death: ‘death is no longer what it used
to be.’ Our culture of death is vulgar (and who can deny
that?). We are not, it seems, dying properly.

Derrida’s interrogation of this broad tradition takes
its point of departure from an examination of
Heidegger’s absolute exclusion of a ‘proper death’ to
animality. According to Heidegger, while Dasein may
fail to live up to its potential to be towards its own death
authentically, animals can never properly die at all.

Animality has its own kind of end, namely, perishing;
but to perish is, for Heidegger, not to die, still less to die
properly. Against Heidegger, Derrida aims to undermine
the security and rigour of this distinction and to attest to
the unremarkable truth ‘that animals also die’.

In order to see what is at stake in such an apparently
insignificant acknowledgement we need to consider one
of the other frontieres explored in Aporias: the kind of
borderline that characterizes conceptual limits. From his
earliest writings Derrida has sought to challenge the
ancient and humanist assumption that ‘when no unity of

46

R a die a I P h if 0 sop h y

72 (J u I Y / A u 9 u 5 t

19 9 5 )

meaning is even promised to it, one is outside language.

And consequently outside humanity’ (Margins of
Philosophy). Aporias shows why the Heideggerian desire
to draw an absolute and uncrossable limit between the
concepts of ‘humanity’ and ‘animality’ by reference to
the death-relation remains within the compass of this
metaphysical humanism.

Heidegger’s exclusion of animality from the realm of
the mortal is practised at the margins of a text, the central
aim of which is to isolate and clarify an authentic relation
to death which can or should be properly ‘our own’ alone.

Derrida’s reading aims to identify within the
Heideggerian clarification of this relation the
transgression of the marginal exclusion – and to show
that the supposed isolation of an authentic relation to
death depends on such transgression. This is carried out
through an examination of the Heideggerian thought that
‘death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of
Dasein.’

Derrida notes that what is ultimately in question with
this impossibility is Dasein’s potential for access to the
world as world. According to Heidegger, Dasein, and
Dasein alone, has access to the world in the mode of
‘something as something’. That is, Dasein, uniquely, has
access to the identificatory border limits of phenomena
‘as such’. And death is the possibility of the absolute
impossibility of such access.

In the course of a sometimes head-spinning·
elucidation of this impossibility, Derrida uncovers a
problem that threatens the ‘ruination’ of Heidegger’s
account of the’ as such’ of Dasein’ s openness in general:

‘If the impossibility of the “as such” is indeed the
impossibility of the “as such”‘, then, Derrida insists, ‘it
is also what cannot appear as such.’

The importance of this observation should not be
underestimated. According to Heidegger, Dasein is
distinguished from every other entity in having access to
worldly phenomena ‘as such’. This mark of distinction
is supposedly founded on Dasein’s unique potential for
access to the possibility of its own death as death. The
problem is, however, that this possibility is in the form of
an essential non-access to death as such. And this is
precisely what was held to be the characteristic lack of
all living things ‘outside’ of Dasein. Thus, even while it
aims to secure the distinction, Heidegger’s own account
winds up showing that one cannot sustain ‘an absolutely
pure and rigorously uncrossable limit’ between humanity
and animality.

Heidegger absolutely excludes animality from
attaining a proper relation to death. Yet the logic of his
own analysis only serves to show that exactly the same is
true of human Dasein. Consequently, the attempt to

establish the propriety of an authentic/inauthentic
distinction ‘within’ Dasein cannot be justified: it is
founded on an illegitimately delimited conception of the
entity that ‘we’ are as something more and better than a
living thing.

Derrida does not deny that there are ‘innumerable
structural differences’ between the human and nonhuman. However, his proposal for an alternative to
Heidegger’s humanist idealization does suggest an
important continuity. In contrast to the traditional
fixation with the circumstances of one’s own death,
Derrida aims to do justice to the familiar fact that a living
thing, human or not, has its primary experience of death
not in relation to itself but in relation to another: ‘the
death of the other thus becomes again “first”, always
first.’ This does not imply that ‘my death’ means nothing.

Rather, it implies that the meaning of ‘my death’ is
internally related not to some impossible experience of
my own death or of a beyond of ‘my life’, but, for
example, to mourning.

As should be clear, this approach does not achieve a
‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of ‘my death’, or indeed of
‘dying properly’ in general. Rather, it aims to teach that
any such calculable solutions are a priori ruled out.

Living on with borderlines is, in general, irreducibly
aporetical: one ‘simply’ cannot know where to go. But
an irreducible aporia is not simply an aporia: ‘if one must
endure the aporia … [then] the aporia can never be
simply endured as such.’ In each case, the aporia calls
for new decisions, and hence new ethico-political
responsibilities. In the ‘place’ of the aporia, such is the
limit and law of all calculability. Such is life.

Simon Glendinning

Ignoble lies
Laurence Lampert, Nietzsche and Modern Times, New
Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1993. xii +
475 pp., £22.50 hb., 0 30005675 3.

The central claim of Lampert’s prolix work is that a new
history of philosophy can be written on the basis of the
following three principles extrapolated from Nietzsche’ s
Beyond Good and Evil: ‘the greatest thoughts are the
greatest events’; ‘genuine philosophers are commanders
and legislators’ ; and ‘the difference between exoteric and
esoteric [was] formerly known to philosophers’. Guided
by these seemingly arbitrary criteria, Lampert proceeds
to chart his so-called ‘Nietzschean’ history of
philosophy, tracing a tendentious trajectory from Plato
to Nietzsche via Bacon and Descartes.

Un surprisingly, perhaps, given the book’s

historiographical bias and the specificity of Lampert’s
typology, Plato emerges as the prototypical
‘Nietzschean’ philosopher and Nietzsche as a typical
‘Platonic’ philosopher. The ‘Nietzschean’ philosopher is
distinguishable by the nature of his deeds: the prudent
dissemination of legislative ideas which will determine
the course of cultural history; and the ‘Platonic’

philosopher by the nature of that which, according to
Lampert, lies at ‘the very core of Platonic philosophy’

and impels him to action – philology and philanthropy.

These two types of ‘genuine philosophers’ are clearly
not mutually exclusive, but neither are they as cosily
interchangeable as Lampert would have us believe.

Lampert defines philology and philanthropy as love
of logos or reason and love of humankind, but his
idiosyncratic application of these concepts testifies to the
oversimplification of this etymology. According to
Lampert, the Platonic philosopher is driven by a love of
humanity, and the Nietzschean philosopher by a love of
what is highest in humanity; both are motivated by a love
of logos. Lampert then appears to conflate the two,
arguing that ‘the genuine philosopher acts out of a
philanthropy that is a love of the highest in humanity, a
love of reason or the logos.’ But if the latter
characterization is plausibly applicable in the case of
Plato, it is wholly inapplicable in the case of Nietzsche,
whose philological transvaluation of reason in
philosophy as the ‘noble lie’ par excellence lends further
support to the Heideggerian reading of Nietzsche as an
inverted Platonist. Indeed, had Lampert interrogated
Nietzsche’s esotericism with the same rigour that he
applies to the works of Bacon and Descartes, he would
have discovered that his philological challenge, far from
subverting Heidegger’s reading (which is clearly
Lampert’s intention), in fact works in its favour.

Lampert does not, of course, overlook the fact that
logos combines in its meaning both speech and reason.

On the contrary, his critical approach to Bacon and
Descartes exemplifies the philological art of
distinguishing between esoteric and exoteric forms of
speech or, to put it another way, of discerning the noble
lies of philosophers, first practised by Plato. It is from the
dual perspective of this type of Platonic philology, and
the type of Platonic philanthropy that does not
necessarily entail a love of what is highest in humanity,
that Bacon and Descartes appear as exemplary Platonic
philosophers. Focusing on Bacon’s two unfinished
works, New Atlantis and An Advertisement Touching on
Holy War, and Descartes’ Discourse on Method,
Lampert convincingly demonstrates how both thinkers
adopted the Platonic art of writing and, somewhat less
convincingly, how Baconian and Cartesian natural

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

47

science – given their joint aim to free philosophy from
the grip of religion and to produce material well-being
through the mastery of nature – constitute a direct
response to Plato’s injunction to ‘go down’ out of love of
humanity.

The final and most substantial part of Lampert’ s book
is a defence of Nietzsche’s vaunted claim to ‘know the
road [and to] have found the exit out of whole millennia
oflabyrinth’ (The Antichrist § 1). ‘The road’, we are told,
is at once Platonic (in Lampert’s narrow sense of the
word) and anti-Platonic (in the more general sense):

philology and philanthropy compel Nietzsche to expose
the noble but nihilistic lies underpinning Western
civilization, and to found a new ‘tragic’ society on the
quicksand of ungodly truths. But for all Lampert’s talk
of affirmation and transcendence, Nietzsche’s ‘truth’ ‘eternal recurrence’ and the ‘innocence of becoming’ was one that Nietzsche himself lacked the courage to
affirm and that alone prohibited him from successfully
transcending his age. Tragic insight might well be ‘the
exit’ out of one form of nihilism, but it is just as surely
the gateway into another, far more dangerous, form of
nihilism. Even Nietzsche, especially Nietzsche, was
unable to relinquish his dependence upon the necessary,
if now ignoble, lie. Incipit Zarathustra …

Francesca Cauchi

In the labyrinth
of the left
Jean-Fran<;ois Lyotard, Political Writings, translated by
Bill Readings and Kevin Paul Geiman, Foreword by Bill
Readings, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press,
1993. xxvi + 352 pp., £38.00 hb., £13.95 pb., 1 85728
1284 hb., 1 85728 1292 pb.

The texts collected here cover a period of thirty years or
more and deal with topics ranging from the Algerian war
of independence to the student politics of the 1970s and
the more recent controversies surrounding the
‘Heidegger affair’. Many of the themes are familiar to
any reader of Lyotard and some of these essays are little
more than footnotes to longer works such as The
Differend or Heidegger and ‘The Jews’. Although it
concentrates less on the political material, Andrew
Benjamin’s Lyotard Reader is probably a better
introduction for the non-specialist.

Politically, Lyotard is marked mainly by his longterm membership of Socialisme ou Barbarie, an offshoot
of the Fourth International founded by Castoriadis in

48

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

1949, and by his association with the Situationist
International. The distinctive contribution of Socialisme
ou Barbarie was the category of ‘bureaucracy’ or
‘bureaucratization’, originally developed as a critique of
the Soviet Union, but easily rendered so elastic as to be
applicable to everything from the emergent Algerian
state to the French university system. The latter is
certainly bureaucratic and the Algerian state has never
been noted for being user-friendly, but one does wonder
about the utility of a global category that takes so little
account of specific differences.

Some curious contradictions emerge from Lyotard’s
peregrinations. The writer who supports the leftist
students in Nanterre, intent upon destroying the ‘system’,
also denounces Lacan’s heavy-handed (and technically
illegal) interventions at the University of Vincennes, on
the very traditional grounds that they represent an abuse
of power and an unwarranted intrusion into academic
affairs. The philosopher who is so reluctant to ‘be’ an
intellectual and to speak in the name of a universal
subject bemoans the fact that it is so rare for anyone to
receive a salary in exchange for a discourse termed
‘philosophy’. Such contradictions – and it would be easy
to find similar examples in the work of Foucault – no
doubt reflect real institutional and political dilemmas. At
a more banal level, they also appear to signal a reluctance
to come to terms with the truism that most French
philosophers are, in fact, employees of the state.

Many of the shorter and directly interventionist
pieces in this collection require much more editorial
annotation and contextualization than they receive: a
reader without a fairly detailed knowledge of the
labyrinth ofleft and far-left politics will soon get lost. As
it is, they are of considerable documentary interest to the
cultural-intellectual historian, but cannot really be seen
as major contributions to any philosophical debate.

The most substantial section – published in book
form in French – concerns the Algerian struggle for
independence. Lyotard’s stance – an honourable one – is
one of critical support for the Front de Liberation
Nationale combined with the inevitable Cassandra-like
warnings about the danger of bureaucratization and the
emergence of a new exploiting class. His insistence that
this was the Algerians’ war allows him to avoid the
vicarious identification with the nationalism of others

that characterized so much of the Third Worldist
discourse of the 1?60s. The absence of any significant
discussion of Islam, on the other hand, suggests a certain
inability or reluctance to come to terms with the specific
otherness of Algerian nationalism.

Lyotard has been badly served by his translators. One
has become accustomed to the odd translation standards
and practices adopted in the field of postmodernism:

differend is a fairly normal term in French and most
readers can trace the semantics of Lyotard’ s playful use
of a synonym for ‘controversy’ or ‘difference of
opinion’. Most English-speakers are going to have much
more trouble with the imported differend. Other
problems here are distinctly pre-modern and should have
been avoided, as in the transmutation of the proletariat’s
labour-power into its ‘labour force’. De Gaulle’s tour of
Algeria in March 1960 becomes ‘the round of stay-athomes’ (le tour des popotes). Popote is a slang term for
an army mess, and De Gaulle was trying to win the
support of his increasingly rebellious officers in a series
of informal mess-room discussions. Had the French army
really consisted of ‘stay-at-homes’, Algeria’s road to
independence might have been a lot easier and less
bloody.

David Macey

The elusive
phallus
Stephen Frosh, Sexual Difference: Masculinity and
Psychoanalysis, London and New York, Routledge,
1994. viii + 153 pp., £35.00 hb., £11.99 pb., 041506843
6 hb., 0415068444 pb.

‘Desiring to understand Lacan is like wanting to have the
phallus’, Frosh believes. This would certainly explain
why he keeps returning to the exposition of Lacan’s
ideas, despite his irritation at the enigmatic writing of
this man he also sees as both ‘trickster and fraud’ . Frosh’ s
own particular treadmill, trying both to display and to
dislodge phallic mastery, takes his readers, one more
time, through the teasing – and for some now tiresome rhetoric of Lacanian ‘certainties’: the penis is, and is not,
aligned with the phallus; the phallus is, and is not, a
masculine symbol. So we move forward (or don’t)
towards understanding the novel dynamics of Lacan’ s
conventional male order: where man must search to have
what he cannot have, and woman must pretend to be what
she cannot be – the forever elusive phallus.

Frosh guides us, with heightened levels of clarity and
critical edge, through territory he has covered fairly

thoroughly in his previous books, The Politics of
Psychoanalysis (1987) and Psychology and
Psychoanalysis (1989), comparing the ‘maternalism’ of
Klein with a more extensive coverage of, and attachment
to, the ‘paternalism’ of Lacan. It is a paternalism, we
must hasten to add, which has next to nothing to do with
any notion of ‘fathering’ (unlike Kleinian maternalism).

The difference this time is that Frosh chooses to weave
into his text more of his own personal experience as a
man and a therapist, handling marital rifts and treating
cases of male sexual violence and child abuse.

The predominantly Lacanian framing of his
reflection, however, throws up a rather uncreative tension
between the concrete interpersonal dynamics of the clinic
and the grandiose claims of the Lacanian Symbolic. This
tension feeds into the author’s repeated self-lacerations:

‘If I try to make a space for my masculinity in my work,
particularly in my therapeutic work, I risk reproducing
oppositions that bolster conventional divisions and
assumptions rather than ‘deconstructing’ them and
creating a more fluid space in which masculinity and
femininity can merge.’ Maybe, maybe not.

This book is an important addition to the growing
work of men reflecting critically upon ‘masculinity’, with
the aim of helping to remove its troubling connections
with violence, dominance and sexual abuse. Frosh
struggles, manfully, to subvert the categories of sexual
difference, calling upon the rhythmic and fr-agmenting
semiotic functioning of the Kristevian Imaginary for
assistance. But the task overwhelms him. Trudging
limply to his finale, spurred along just a little by the postLacanian voices of women which assert themselves as
potential ‘sowers of disorder’, Frosh laments that his own
imagination fails him. The possibility of admitting
female power and agency seem forever crushed by the
overweening pretensions of phallic masculinity: ‘I have
now almost completed writing a book on sexual
difference, yet still cannot find any words for
transgressing gender categories which are not themselves
full to overflowing with those categories, which are not,
once again, firmly rooted in the masculine.’

Before closing, he wonders whether his ‘use of
complex theories of the kind described in this book’ may
not be part of the problem. And this takes us all full circle
right back to where we started from. I suspect Frosh is
right to fear that unless he can find a way to reject the
Lacanian certainty that to be a subject is, and only is, to
pretend to possess the phallus, he must fail in his goal of
finding a route beyond notions of male dominance and
female submission; and fail, certainly, to find a route that
might satisfy himself.

Lynne Segal

R a die a I Phi I 0 sop h y 72 (J u I Y / A u 9 u S t 1 9 9 5)

49

Michael Keith and Steve Pile, eds, Place and the Politics of Identity,
London and New York, Routledge, 1993.

viii + 235 pp., £11.99 pb., 0 415 09008 3 hb., 0 415 09009 1 pb.

The editors have put together a lively and

contemporary lifestyles and cultural

the mood of the burgeoning new

stimulating collection of a dozen essays

experiences are dominated by categories

‘postmodern’

by radical geographers which goes a long

of space rather than those of time. For

increasing

way toward justifying their claim that all

me, lameson’s argument is deeply

political imagination and reality. In both,

spatialities are political because they are

misleading.

the

Its

influence

on

the

politics

colonizing

emphasis

is

on

which

is

everybody’s
complexity,

the expression of asymmetrical relations

theoretical paradigm adopted by many of

ambiguity,

of power. The volume contains a healthy

the contributors results in a narrowness

insecurity, instability, etc. The radical

mix of the empirical and the theoretical.

of approach and concern. The editors

French geographer Paul Virilio (who is

I have to admit, however, that I was

speak of a ‘spatial vogue’ gripping social

surprisingly never mentioned in any of

disappointed by the lack of engagement

scientists

This

the essays in this collection) has spoken

with the philosophical tradition. Only

privileging of space over time strikes me,

of our experience of everyday life as

one of the contributors – Sue Golding, in

however,

as both premature and

being governed by a new technological

a wonderfully adventurous and perverted

parochial. I would argue that the ongoing

‘space-time’, a ‘pure computer time’, in

essay, ‘Quantum Philosophy, Impossible

and intensifying revolution in everyday

which the ‘instantaneity of ubiquity’

Geographies and a few small points

life includes a revolution in science and

produces

about life, liberty and the pursuit of sex

culture in general, in which the only way

obliterates the notion of physical

(all in the name of democracy)’ –

to map cognitively (to use lameson’s

dimension. It is awareness of this

in

recent

years.

diversity,

a

plurality,

‘speed distance’

that

mentions figures such as Bachelard and

vocabulary) the radical transformations

penetration of space by speed-time

Heidegger. The collection clearly

is with constructed, and deconstructible,

which is affecting all our lives in the

demonstrates that radical geographers

notions of space and time.

have a vital contribution to make to

most profound ways imaginable, and

The recognition within contemporary

which

clearly

has

far-reaching

illuminating the new cultural politics,

physics – i.e. ‘post-quantum mechanics’

implications for political thought and

where the focus is on how a decentred

– that there are no stable, permanent

action, that is missing from this

‘identity’ is forged and questions about

‘rules’

historically

collection. Only one essay, written
. by.

place and space are fore grounded.

determined by the acceleration of

Doreen Massey, attempts to register the

is

as

much

It is not surprising to find many of

‘world-history’ (perhaps’ global history’

impact of the new paradigm in physics

them preoccupied with the issue of

would be a better term), as is the evident

and appreciates the indissolubility of

postmodernity

classic

erosion of stability and certainty in our

space and time, but even this fails

formulation by Fredric lameson, in

and

its

ethical and political life. Fundamental to

properly to get to grips with the awesome
questions which need to be confronted.

of space is

the new entropic physics is the

privileged. lameson has argued that, in

rediscovery of time. The Stimmung of

contrast to the period of high modernism,

contemporary physics closely matches

which

the

category

Keith Ansell·Pearson

Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality,
New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993.

xxii + 175 pp., £17.95 hb., 0195081781.

Virtual reality is the computer simulation

introductory account of its social and

are one or two lapses, though; for

of reality, not only the reality of the

intellectual consequences, or simply as a

example, he suggests that acupuncture

actual physical world but of any

broad introduction to the idea of virtual

and yogic healing might help us reorient

imagined worlds as well. As such it

reality itself: it is not, unfortunately, a

ourselves ‘when we are trapped in our

raises (and will continue to raise, as the

treatment of the metaphysics of virtual

minds and cybersystems’ and that

technology

reality.

‘software architects shape the datascape

behind

numerous questions:

it

develops)

metaphysical,

ethical and social. However, the title of

Beach,

into endless mazes of light attracting us

California, and is described as a

Heim

lives

in

Long

like moths to a flame’. Overall, however,

Michael Heim’s book is misleading. It

‘freelance philosophy professor’. He is

this lightness of style prevents him from

might plausibly be regarded as a primer

leisurely, engaging, enthusiastic, and

ever venturing deeply enough into his

on the history of the technology and

generally free from the worst excesses

subject to offer a penetrating or

thinking behind virtual reality, or as an

of the frothy West Coast idiom. There

illuminating analysis.

50

R a die a I P h

if 0

sop h y

72 (J u I Y / A u 9 u S t 1 9 9 5 )

Amongst the perennial obsessions in
Western philosophy has been that of the
not-quite

reality

which

is

yet

indistinguishable from the ‘real thing’.

This notion recurs in Descartes’ sceptical
doubt and in idealism since Leibniz and
Berkeley, and the attention that has been
paid it constitutes a rich resource for any
commentator on the metaphysics of
virtual reality. But Heim fails to exploit
it; idealism is mentioned only in passing
and, though other aspects of Leibnizian
metaphysics are brought into the
discussion at greater length, this is only
in order to conjure up a perplexing and
complicated metaphor from Leibnizian
monadology, in which Heim asserts that
monads have ‘terminals’, ‘never meet
face to face’, and ‘run different
software’ .

As metaphysics, this book is bound
to disappoint. As an introduction for the
neophyte to virtual reality and related
areas in modern information technology,
and

to

their

human,

social

Engels’ Centenary

and

intellectual history and impact, on the
other hand, it is considerably more

Friedrich Engels died on 5 August 1895. The forthcoming centenary offers
us the occasion to commemorate this great socialist. An International
Engels Symposium is being organized in Wuppertal, Engels’s birthplace,
for 9-13 October. About thirty scholars have already indicated that they
will participate. The organizer is Prof. Theodor Bergmann, Im Asemwald
26,6,215, Stuttgart 70 599, Germany. Actuel Marx is organizing a big
conference in Paris, called ‘Marxism after 100 Years’ , for the last week in
September. No doubt other events are being planned elsewhere. I myself
am editing a collection of papers addressing live issues in Engels’ s thought,
to appear at the end of the year published by Macmillan (authors include
Benton, Collier, O’Neill, Vogel, Sayers, Arthur and Carver).

The last thing Engels achieved before his death was to bring out the
third volume of Capital. The centenary of this event was marked last
December by a conference at the University of Bergamo, bringing together
scholars from all over Europe and the Americas. It was superbly organized
by Riccardo Bellofiore of the Economics Department there. He will be
editing a two-volume selection of papers from the conference, entitled
Marxian Economics: A Centenary Appraisal, also to be published by
Macmillan. Among those included will be important contributions by
Ganssmann (Berlin); Finelli and Bellofiore (Italy), Faccarello (France),
Reuten (Holland), Levine (USA), Shaikh (USA), Mohun (London),
Schefold (Frankfurt), de Brunhoff (France), Dumenil (France), Kurz
(Austria), Foley (USA), and Meacci (Italy).

Chris Arthur

successful. Heim has a facility for
grasping salient points from what is a
vast and bewildering tidal wave of facts
and issues, and presenting them clearly
and succinctly. He is even better at

Diane Neumaier·s
Museum Studies

conveying an idea of the various (often
new and strange) experiences which
characterize

the

foray

into

such

developments as hypertext and other
new

user

interfaces,

and

human

interaction through electronic media
such as the Internet. Finally, at his best,
he successfully and vividly conveys his
own excitement and enthusiasm.

As a friendly introduction to the idea
of virtual reality, this book is an
accomplished and informative primer,
though once or twice marred by the
intrusion of disconnected and confusing
flights into metaphysics. Considered as a
deeper

philosophical

commentary,

however, its shortcomings are serious,
and as a genuine metaphysical treatment,
fatal.

Daniele Procida

The images throughout pages 6-27 and on the cover of this issue were
selected from Diane Neumaier’s Museum Studies (1991) – a sequence of
160 black and white photographs taken in over two dozen American
institutions which simulates a tour through an imaginary American
museum. In the original project, which is planned to appear as a book, the
photographs are grouped together under 22 separate headings.

The photographs used above are taken from the following sections of
the work:

The Photography of Art: Capturing the Experience
cover
Ready to be Collected
p.6
The (Heterosexual) Couple
p.9
Ready to be Collected
p. 12
Master Narratives and the Grand Tour
p.20
The Photography of Art: Capturing the Experience
p.27
Diane Neumaier is professor of photography at Mason Gross School of
Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey and editor of ReFramings: New
American Feminist Photographies, forthcoming from Temple University
Press, Philadelphia. We are grateful to her for permission to reproduce her
photographs here.

Radical Philosophy 72 (July/August 1995)

51

Buy the newest RP in printDownload the PDF