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Body and Story

The Ethics and Practice of Theoretical Conflict

Richard Terdiman

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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...

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.

Reviews

Reviews

In this nuanced study, Terdiman addresses a conflict that seems to define much of contemporary critical debate: the conflict between seeing the world as something that can be experienced directly and immediately and seeing the world as being defined through and through by representation and language... Highly recommended.

Given its interdisciplinary theme and state-of-the-art methodology, Body and Story is a relevant contribution to students and researchers of philosophy, literature, culture and history.

A thought-provoking book and an original contribution.

A welcome reflection on the condition of theory in the crepuscule of its idols. It searches ahead and backward; it looks all about a splendid variety of critical texts from French, German, and Anglo-American traditions; its own inconclusiveness becomes the very proof of its reading. Terdiman looks at theory from an angle that tends to be placed in the Enlightenment and dialectical philosophy and not from a point of allegiance with one Poststructuralist philosopher over another.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
288
ISBN
9780801885433
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Difference in Theory
Part I: The Consequentiality of Bodies
1. The Nun Who Never Was
2. On the Matter of Bodies
3. The Body and the Text
4. Materiality, Language, and Money
Part II: The

Preface
Introduction: Difference in Theory
Part I: The Consequentiality of Bodies
1. The Nun Who Never Was
2. On the Matter of Bodies
3. The Body and the Text
4. Materiality, Language, and Money
Part II: The Conflict of Theories
5. The Enlightenment Discovers Postmodernism
6. The Epistemology of Difference
7. Materiality, Resistance, and Time
In-Conclusion: An Ethics of Theory
Works Cited
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Richard Terdiman, Ph.D.

Richard Terdiman is a professor of literature and the history of consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.