Reason and the Nature of Texts

Reason and the Nature of Texts

Reason and the Nature of Texts

Reason and the Nature of Texts

Excerpt

When I began the project that became this book, I thought, rather naively as it turned out, that by putting together a couple of recent articles and some earlier pieces written in the late seventies and in the eighties I could expeditiously and without much labor advance the campaign in behalf of intentionality, determinate meaning, and objective knowledge of the internal interests of literary texts that I had waged in my Paradigms Regained: Pluralism and the Practice of Criticism. In addition, I thought that these essays would nicely supplement and complicate the debate by taking up matters either peripheral to or neglected by the book. I was sustained, at least initially, by the conviction that despite their parochial interests and obligations the essays were argument-ready for their new assignment. I am perhaps not the first person who has listened "with credulity to whispers of fancy and pursued with eagerness the phantoms of hope," as Johnson says at the opening of Rasselas. As dream yielded to morning and morning to effort, however, I realized that, while each piece had a contribution to make to the project, all but the two most recent essays would have to submit to substantial retraining (indeed, in some cases, genetic reprogramming would be in order) if they were to reflect accurately my current thinking and to respond effectively to the prevailing assumptions in critical theory.

Although in their extensively reworked form the essays occasionally address specific critical positions (for example, those of Stanley Fish, Mikhail Bakhtin, Elder Olson, and Jacques Derrida), they speak most immediately to current concerns by directing attention to conceptions of language, mind, and meaning that run counter to those expressed or assumed in most theoretical and practical discussions today. In short, this book argues against some specific approaches and doctrines but focuses principally on explaining, developing, and applying to literary concerns a body of principles and arguments that has emerged in recent years in . . .

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