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Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict
     

Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict

by Richard Terdiman
 
In Body and Story Richard Terdiman explores the tension between what have seemed two fundamentally different ways of understanding the world: as directly experienced physical reality and as representation in language. In demonstrating the historically more complicated relationship between these two conceptions, he also offers a new approach to the problem of conflicts

Overview

In Body and Story Richard Terdiman explores the tension between what have seemed two fundamentally different ways of understanding the world: as directly experienced physical reality and as representation in language. In demonstrating the historically more complicated relationship between these two conceptions, he also offers a new approach to the problem of conflicts between irreconcilable but equally compelling theoretical ideas.

Englightenment rationalism maintains that words can meaningfully refer to and grasp things themselves in the material world, while Postmodern theory (in)famously argues that nothing exists outside of language. Terdiman challenges this clean distinction, finding the early seeds of Poststructuralist doubt in the Englightenment and demonstrating the stubborn resistance of material reality-particularly that of the body-to language even today.

Building on readings of works by eighteenth-century encyclopedist Denis Diderot and contemporary philosopher-icon Jacques Derrida, Terdiman argues that despite their genuine and profound opposition, a constant negotiation or mutual interrogation has always taken place between these two world-views, even as the balance at times has shifted to one side or the other. In analyzing these shifts he proposes a new model for understanding how seemingly incompatible theories legitimately coexist in our intellectual conception of the world, and suggests a new critical ethics for managing this coexistence.

Editorial Reviews

Choice

In this nuanced study, Terdiman addresses a conflict that seems to define much of contemporary critical debate: the conflict between seeing the world as something that can be experienced directly and immediately and seeing the world as being defined through and through by representation and language... Highly recommended.

European Legacy

Given its interdisciplinary theme and state-of-the-art methodology, Body and Story is a relevant contribution to students and researchers of philosophy, literature, culture and history.

— Cyana Leahy-Dios

European Legacy - Cyana Leahy-Dios
Given its interdisciplinary theme and state-of-the-art methodology, Body and Story is a relevant contribution to students and researchers of philosophy, literature, culture and history.

Philosophy in Review - Christopher Cowley and Alena Dvorakova
A thought-provoking book and an original contribution.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801880681
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
03/01/2005
Pages:
265
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

What People are Saying About This

Tom Conley

A welcome reflection on the condition of theory in the crepuscule of its idols. It searches ahead and backward; it looks all about a splendid variety of critical texts from French, German, and Anglo-American traditions; its own inconclusiveness becomes the very proof of its reading. Terdiman looks at theory from an angle that tends to be placed in the Enlightenment and dialectical philosophy and not from a point of allegiance with one Poststructuralist philosopher over another.

Tom Conley, Harvard University

Meet the Author

Richard Terdiman is a professor of literature and the history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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