By Charles Altieri
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Extra info for Act & quality: a theory of literary meaning and humanistic understanding
But I think one can turn the tables on scientism and scepticism by continually exposing their inadequacies with respect to literary meanings and then using those inadequacies as what I call a contrastive frame setting off the properties and forces gestured at by humanistic pieties. Since Derrida is the contrastive figure I find most useful, I shall return to his metaphors: one can hope to restore the luster and exchange value of humanistic critical ideas by insisting on the inflationary features of newly minted currencies, which do not allow it to serve the same critical functions as the apparently outmoded assumptions.
One might argue that Chomsky invites the recent critiques of his emphasis on syntax, because his fidelity to a rationalist explanatory model severely limits the descriptive facts he can thoroughly consider. Examples like this, and the strong sense I give to explanation, account in large part for my ignoring the hermeneutic claims of Marx and Freud. Their forms of descriptions depend on large explanatory claims which I distrust, because I see no way of testing them as systematic arguments. One can, of course, use their work as guides to problems one must consider, but this is true of any good imaginative work and does not constitute grounds for hermeneutic theory.
The many revisions were facilitated (and guilt reduced) by the unfailing kindness of the secretarial staffs of SUNY Buffalo and the University of Washington. Their work and mine was made more difficult by the sharp criticisms of those who read parts or all of the manuscript at various stages-a task only partially imaginable by those who complete this ver- Page vi sion. For this I express special thanks to Carl Dennis, David Tarbet, Eric La Guardia, John Webster, Renato Rosaldo and, above all, to Leroy Searle who read it all twice and offered penetrating remarks (as did one especially kind and thorough, but nameless, reader for an academic press).
Act & quality: a theory of literary meaning and humanistic understanding by Charles Altieri