By Martin Jay

During this account of a few of the principal strategies in smooth existence and proposal, Professor Jay investigates how language can't fail to alter and mediate event. the subjects he treats variety from "theory" and "experience" to the that means of "multiculturalism" and the dynamic of "cultural subversion", and one of the thinkers he engages are Bataille, Foucault, Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Lyotard.

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But what has remained constant is the intense curiosity they feel about those figures and the ideas they generated. Contrary to the widespread fear that politically correct "identity politics" prevents students of minority backgrounds from taking seriously anything from other cultures, they appear far too sophisticated in their appreciation of the internal complexities of the European intellectual tradition, its positive as well as negative legacy, to reject it out of hand. And they seem fully aware that its intellectual < previous page page_34 next page > < previous page page_35 next page > Page 35 resources are too valuable to be ignored merely because of their European provenance.

That is, on one level, the field appeals to those who want a broad, if perhaps not terribly profound, knowledge of European intellectual traditions, which they assume will provide a veneer of "gentlemanly" culture. As such, it can be called the quintessence of a loosely interdisciplinary, liberal arts education in a traditional humanist mode. Here "great books" of philosophy, literature, and political theory are read with the reverential piety due to "timeless classics" of Western thought. But on another level, intellectual history attracts those who appreciate the often subversive implications of many of the ideas in those same books, ideas which contested the received wisdom of their original milieux and often have the potential to do so today.

Previous page page_19 next page > Page 19 as a synonym for an edifice of increasingly abstract generalizations about the world, which they claim is normatively embodied in natural scientific theorization. " 17 They are even further from the usage of Michaels and Knapp who defined the theory they were so resolutely against as "splitting apart terms that are in fact inseparable,"18 such as the meaning of a text and the authorial intention allegedly preceding it. 20 One complaint against virtually all varieties of theory, however, has been shared by many of its critics: that they are tainted by the same original sin, which could be traced back to the classical Greek meaning of theoria as a visually determined contemplation of the world from afar.

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