Modernity and its Discontents / Edition 2

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The introduction by Merold Westphal sets the scene: "Two books, two visions of philosophy, two friends and sometimes colleagues..." This book is an attempt at a mediated dialogue between the critical modernism of Marsh's Post-Cartesian Meditations, deeply indebted to the thought of Jurgen Habermas, and the postmodernism of Caputo's Radical Hermeneutics, equally indebted to the thought of Jacques Derrida. Their distinctive embodiments of these two major movements in contemporary philosophy are by no means simply the exposition and defense of Habermas and Derrida, for Marsh and Caputo bring to the discussion their own long formation in continental philosophy as interpreted and practiced in North America. Moreover, given their even longer formation in the Christian tradition, they are not bound by the dogmatic secularism of Habermas and Derrida. But the point of contact is not so much religious as political, and the fundamental question concerns the role that reason may play in building a humane society. It is in their differing estimates of reason's nature and possible political function that the disagreements are most sharply focused. Thus the epistemological debate is driven by political passion and properly concerns the viability of the Enlightenment dream that knowledge could indeed be enlightening and humanizing. Westphal is especially well suited to attempt to mediate the debate because he not only shares with Caputo and Marsh a long formation in both continental philosophy and the Christian faith, but he is deeply sympathetic to both critical modernism and postmodernism. Caputo finds him to be almost as hopeless a rationalist as Marsh, while Marsh finds him to flirt almost as shamelessly with irrationality as Caputo. Westphal seeks to argue, not for a synthesis of the two perspectives, but for a willingness to live in the tension between the two.
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Editorial Reviews

A critique of high modernism from a newly formulated Marxist perspective, achieved through analyses of texts by Marx and Adorno, Manet's paintings, and the works of several Latin American writers. A lucid attempt at a mediated dialogue between the critical modernism of Marsh's Post-Cartesian meditations, deeply indebted to the thought of Jurgen Habermas, and the postmodernism of John D. Caputo's Radical hermeneutics, equally indebted to the thought of Jacques Derrida. Based on a symposium at Fordham U. in March 1989. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823213450
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1992
  • Edition description: 2
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 238
  • Lexile: 1350L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

James L. Marsh is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Fordham University. He has published widely in such philosophical journals as International Philosophical Quarterly, New German Critique, and International Journal for Philosophy of Religion.

John D. Caputo is the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and is editor of Fordham University Press' Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series.

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Table of Contents

Postmodernism/Critical Modernism
Caputo reads Marsh: In Defense of Ambiguity 1
Marsh reads Caputo: In Defense of Modernist Rationality 11
Uncapitalizing on Radical Hermeneutics 23
On Being Inside/Outside Truth 45
Understanding and Difference: Reflections on Dialectical Phenomenology 65
Ambiguity, Language, and Communicative Praxis: A Critical Modernist Articulation 87
Open Forum 111
A Philosophical Dialogue: James L. Marsh, John D. Caputo, and Merold Westphal 119
The Cheating of Cratylus (Genitivus Subjectivus) 163
A Final Word (Eight Famous Ones) 183
The Gentle and Rigorous Cogency of Communicative Rationality 197
Index 217
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