SUSAN NEIMAN “What It All Means” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/books/review/Neiman-t.html
They[Dreyfus and Kelly] provide a compressed narrative of changes in Western understanding of human existence over the course of nearly three millenniums, and argue that reading great works of literature allows us to rediscover the reverence, gratitude and amazement that were available in Homeric times. These qualities, they believe, can be cultivated to provide a bulwark against the nihilism they rightly view as threatening our ability to lead meaningful lives in the 21st century. “The gods have not withdrawn or abandoned us,” they conclude. “We have kicked them out.”
In 2011, it’s disconcerting to read that we have been released from the ancient temptation to monotheism; much of the world hasn’t heard the news. But if Dreyfus and Kelly neglect those for whom monotheism remains a live option, they have much to say to those for whom it doesn’t. Mediated and suspicious, they argue, we have lost a way of being in the world that the Greeks found natural. The reason so many of us feel so miserable is that we can neither find meaning in ourselves alone nor give up the longing to find it somewhere else. “All Things Shining” offers fascinating readings of works of literature chosen to illuminate this narrative — from Aeschylus, Dante and Melville to David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Gilbert — as well as passionate glimpses of the attitudes toward the world the authors urge us to regain.
Dreyfus and Kelly begin with those happy polytheists, the Greeks, who were less reflective than we are, and less convinced that they were in control of the world. This left them open to experience a world in which things shine as works of art do, to feel gratitude not only for the bounties of nature but for human excellence in all its forms, itself regarded as a gift.
ドレイファス氏は、世俗化は何よりも「意味」の問題であり、アブラハム的「一神教」と密接に関連しているというウェーバー＝バーガー的認識を（私と）共有していると思った。かなりベタで恐縮だが、ここでも再びバーガーの『聖なる天蓋』をマークしておく*3。〈意味の危機〉としての世俗化を巡っては、19世紀英国文学を世俗化に対する文学的応答として論じたJ. Hillis Miller The Disappearance of God: five Nineteenth-Century Writers*4をマークしておく。また、可能性としての「多神教」ということでは、やはりメルヴィルの『白鯨』に言及しているSEAN D. KELLY “Navigating Past Nihilism”*5も参照のこと。
The authors’ incandescent reading of Homer raises questions about their argument as a whole. Though they reject the view of our history as a tale of decline, the story they tell makes it hard to avoid: from the Greeks, whom they depict as accepting the Trojan War as just another fact of life, to David Foster Wallace, whose depression “made him peculiarly sensitive to something that pervades the culture, something not personal and individual but public and shared.” It’s a story that, through Augustine and Dante, reduces the multiple meanings available to the Greeks to one meaning — the Incarnation — without which we are damned. Descartes moved further toward nihilism by making the will the basic aspect of human being, thus undercutting our ability to be receptive to the world. Kant sealed our fate by making us the source of the world’s order, and autonomy the highest good. It’s a short step from Kant to Captain Ahab, whose “misguided passion for monotheism” leads to his doom.
If the ancient world was more ambiguous than Dreyfus and Kelly suggest, the modern one has richer sources of meaning than they discuss. “All Things Shining” rightly argues that our culture suffers from a dearth of reverence and gratitude, but we needn’t go all the way back to the pagans to find it. Kant thought King David’s psalms inadequate praise of Creation, since its wonders were fully revealed only after Newton. Voltaire believed natural religion was self-evident for all but “thankless scoundrels,” and even Hume thought ingratitude the most unnatural of crimes. In echoing Heidegger’s critique of modernity, the authors ignore modern possibilities for meaning.
This may explain why their contemporary examples fall short of their rich discussion of earlier texts. Keen to recapture Greek experience of moments when reality glows, Dreyfus and Kelly repeatedly turn to mass sports events, which they see as providing a primary sense of community and meaning in contemporary America. They allow that others may have felt the same thing during Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the Mall. If this isn’t a category mistake, it’s something worse, for it has the effect of draining that speech of its content — surely a part of meaning itself. More recent in memory, Barack Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park in 2008 wasn’t just a “whooshing” (as they describe such moments) or a rush of community feeling. It was about something — a resurgence of democracy, a victory against racism, a rebirth of American dreams — as well as the sense that it was something that millions not only cheered on, but had a hand in bringing about. None of these things stand behind the exuberance you may feel when your team wins. And savoring a cup of coffee — another example they give — might make your life richer, but it can just as easily turn into the sort of foodie obsession that seems to point away from genuine meaning, not toward it.
- 作者: Peter L. Berger
- 出版社/メーカー: Anchor
- 発売日: 1990/09/01
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- 作者: J. Hillis Miller
- 出版社/メーカー: Univ of Illinois Pr
- 発売日: 2000/11
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*2:http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~sdkelly/ See also Steve Bradt “Sean Dorrance Kelly named professor of philosophy” http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/05.25/03-kelly.html
*4:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20061109/1163080989