Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict

Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict

by Richard Terdiman
Pub. Date:
Johns Hopkins University Press

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Body and Story: The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict

In Body and Story, Richard Terdiman explores the tension between what might seem to be two fundamentally different ways of understanding the world: as physical reality and as representation in language. In demonstrating the complicated relationship between these two modes of being, he also presents a new bold approach to the problem of conflicts between irreconcilable but equally compelling theoretical ideas.

Enlightenment rationalism is most often understood as maintaining that words can meaningfully refer to and grasp things in the material world, while Postmodernism famously argues that nothing exists outside of language. Terdiman challenges this clean distinction, finding the early seeds of Postmodern doubt in the Enlightenment, and demonstrating the stubborn resistance of material reality—particularly that of the body—to language even today. Building on readings of works by 18th-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 been taking place between these two world-views, even as the balance at times shifts to one side or the other. In analyzing these shifts he proposes a new model for understanding how seemingly unabridgeable theories legitimately coexist in our intellectual conception of the world, and he suggests a new ethics for managing this coexistence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801885433
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 10/06/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction. Difference in Theory1
Part IThe Consequentiality of Bodies
1The Nun Who Never Was19
2On the Matter of Bodies39
3The Body and the Text69
4Materiality, Language, and Money84
Part IIThe Conflict of Theories
5The Enlightenment Discovers Postmodernism113
6The Epistemology of Difference130
7Materiality, Resistance, and Time167
In-Conclusion. An Ethics of Theory195
Works Cited239

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