Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sperry, Elizabeth A. Review of Lorenzo Fabbri's THE DOMESTICATION OF DERRIDA. NDPR (April 2009).

Fabbri, Lorenzo. The Domestication of Derrida: Rorty, Pragmatism and Deconstruction. London: Continuum, 2008. Profound disagreement can be more comfortable for interested parties than a family resemblance between broadly similar approaches. Where there is a shared bloodline, more complete alignment seems within reach, if only the other side would wise up on a few details. Derrida and Rorty are just such philosophical siblings. Each appreciated the other, but expressed puzzlement at aspects of the other's work. The puzzlement was all the more vexing because seemingly irresolvable, despite Derrida's and Rorty's shared project of questioning philosophical absolutes. Lorenzo Fabbri passes judgment on this scene of sibling strife in The Domestication of Derrida: Rorty, Pragmatism and Deconstruction. Adjudicating a dispute over fine points requires care: it demands an accurate portrayal of each account and a thoughtful sifting of differences. Unfortunately, Fabbri routinely fails to demonstrate such care. Nevertheless, The Domestication of Derrida may prove useful to some non-Continental philosophers, given its accessible treatment of Derrida. Juxtaposing Derrida and Rorty enables Fabbri to piggyback some of Derrida's ideas on Rorty's, a device that could be helpful to American readers already familiar with Rorty. Fabbri sets himself three tasks: first, to explore areas of agreement between Derrida and Rorty; second, to present Rorty's failings as an interpreter of Derrida; and third, to expose Rorty's own philosophical shortcomings. Fabbri's title initially suggests a primary focus on Derrida, but in fact Fabbri is largely occupied with assessing Rorty. This is no bait and switch: it makes perfect sense given Derrida's and Rorty's overlapping intellectual territory. Fabbri writes in a continental style, as befits a monograph in the Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy Series. While pursuing his three aims, Fabbri expostulates on Benjamin, Harold Bloom, De Man, Foucault, Habermas, Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl, Kant, and Nietzsche. Analytic philosophers might consider these discussions to be unfocussed digressions; continental philosophers may see them as interesting intellectual back-story. Still, it is surprising that a book announcing Rorty's shortcomings finds so much time and space for so many other thinkers, when so little time and space is devoted to independent textual analysis of Rorty's oeuvre. . . . Read the whole review here:

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