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'Condemned to Meaning'

A Critical Review of Recent Work on Charles Taylor

Deane-Peter Baker

Charles Taylor, by Ruth Abbey. Teddington, UK: Acumen, 2000. ISBN: 0691057141.

Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity, by Nicholas H. Smith. Cambridge: Polity, 2002. ISBN: 0742521273.

Charles Taylor: Thinking and Living Deep Diversity, by Mark Redhead. Lanham and Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. ISBN: 0745645767.

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On the Meanings of Democracy

Jean-Luc Nancy

'On the Meanings of Democracy' points to the fragility and contested meanings of 'democracy'. Once 'the assurance is given that "democracy" is the only kind of political regime that is acceptable to an adult, emancipated population which is an end in itself, the very idea of democracy fades and becomes blurred and confusing'. Such 'wide-spread lack of clarity' gave rise to Europe's 'totalitarian' regimes. It is claimed that 'it is impossible to be simply a "democrat" without questioning what this really means', and that to ignore the conceptual difficulties is as 'dangerous as rejecting democracy completely'. A 'minimal argument or blueprint for an enquiry into the possible meanings' of the term is proposed. The implications of taking 'democracy', the word, 'to describe the exercising of political power by the people' are explored. The 'people' as a social group distinct from some 'other reputedly superior part, which dominates it', is distinguished from the 'people' taken to mean 'the whole'. In the first sense, 'democracy' is not a regime but an uprising against a regime or government. In the second sense, the 'political sovereignty of the people' signifies their 'self-constitution as a people'. Accounts of democracy that focus not so much on its 'political specificity' as on 'civil society' or the 'social bond' are then explored. The author concludes with a reflection on the relationship between democracy, 'modernity' and the scope, nature and place of politics.

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Reading and Be-ing: Finding Meaning in Jean-Paul Sartre's La Nausée

James Gibbs

This study of Sartre's first novel seeks to move beyond the metaphysical constraints that are implicit when specifically focusing on either the work's literary or philosophical qualities, instead approaching the text as metafiction. Through an understanding of the novel's self-referentiality, its awareness of its accordance to narrative technique or reliance on existential verbatim, one gains an understanding of Sartre's fascination with the dialogue that exists between literature and philosophy. The examination of La Nausée and its Anglo-American criticism leads to a re-evaluation of the role of bad faith, in which character, author and, particularly, reader, are implicit. For reading is, like Roquentin's concluding understanding of existence, a balancing-act between the in-itself and the for-itself; an interaction with bad faith in which it is the individual/the reader that is responsible for attributing meaning to experience/La Nausée.

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Meaning by Hawkes

Christy Desmet

While Terence Hawkes is best known as a witty practitioner of post-structural literary theory, his earliest scholarly efforts, such as the edited collection Coleridge on Shakespeare and the student text Structuralism and Semiotics, reveal some of his enduring intellectual traits, which range from a rigorous scholarly method and clear argumentative logic to intellectual generosity.

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Quartet in Autumn and the Meaning of Barbara Pym

Antoinette Burton

too narrow for understanding and historicizing her life, her work, or her reputation. What, then, is the meaning of Barbara Pym? And what can it tell us about the once and future psychic lives of Brexit? Since 1977, Pym's novels and career have

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The Meaning and Truth of History: A Note on Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason

Joseph S. Catalano

My goal in writing this article is to give a brief overview of the two volumes of Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason. After a brief introduction, I proceed in three stages that move from the abstract to the concrete. I thus trace the development of such notions as comprehension into the dialectic, praxis into singularity and incarnation, the practico-inert into the totalization-of-envelopment, and the enhancement of the notion of scarcity as a general historical condition into a collective free choice. I also suggest new divisions for Critique II.

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What is Political Writing?: Sartre and Merleau-Ponty on Literature and the Expression of Meaning

Joseph C. Bereudzen

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Millennial Dark Ladies

Katherine Scheil

observed by reviewer J. N. Benjamin in Lloyd Morgan's play, noting that her ‘words see each and every woman that came before Emilia, have come since her, and are yet to come … Emilia is a play that transcends time, and place, to find meaning and relevance

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Unhap, Misadventure, Infortune

Chaucer’s Vocabulary of Mischance

Helen Cooper

of either linguistic origin. It may function as a direct negative, but it more often carries a meaning of something going astray, amiss (which itself has a different derivation). Sometimes these usages indicate departures from what is correct rather

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The True Story of Gundagai’s Dog on the Tuckerbox

Tourists, Truth, and the Insouciance of Souvenirs

Richard White

journeying between Australia’s two largest cities, it became a standard stop, a conversation piece, and the subject of a million tourist snapshots. Yet its meaning was always—arguably intentionally—clouded in obscurity. Figure 1 Postcard c.1955, Jim Davidson