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Title:  The Elusive Hermes: Method, Discourse, Interpreting Author:  Peter Carravetta Series:  Thinking European Worlds Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover 504 pp. USD 34.00 ISBN 978-1934542149 May, 2013 This is the first of a four volume project under the aegis of the messenger deity Hermes. Volume IV, On the Postmodern, was published in 2009; volume II, Thresholds: Method and Interpretation in Contemporary Italy, is in progress; volume III will focus on humanism. In The Elusive Hermes the author proposes a new general theory of interpretation by taking as a starting point the interconnectedness between Method, Theory, and Discourse. He holds that a worldview requires a way of understanding it, and trying to comprehend something requires that we have some idea of it. In this fashion, Method and Theory are always co-present during interpretation. To explore this bond, the author finds in Discourse the common and indeed primordial material to enable both theorization and methodic inquiry. In a strong reevaluation of rhetoric as philosophy, fertile ground for the thesis is found in the Sophists, Peirce, Ricouer, and Perelman. With these premises established, the book then lays out a flexible model for interpretation anchored to three necessary critical loci: the Work, the Interpreter, and the Interpreting act or process itself. This last element requires the reintroduction of consciousness and taking language as endowed from the start with a pragmatic dimension. The model is put to the test by studying the relation between Method and Discourse in Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Husserl.  Crossing various disciplines, these researches delve into key turning points in the succession of approaches, Descartes that became dominant in determining who or what we are, and how we can know anything at all. The author concludes that the sciences and the humanities are not antithetical, as we have been led to believe throughout Modernity, but rather share common origins, concerns, and discursive practices. Table of Contents Prologue                                                                                                       Acknowledgments                                                                                         Introduction 1.  Being and Method                                                                           2.  Theory, Discourse, and  Interpretation                                                                                                       PART ONE: Method, Theory, and the Problem of Interpretation 1. On Methodological Relativity 2. On Theoretical Relativity 3. Terms, Field, and Figures of the Argument 4. Summary: The Elements of the Model 5. Further Considerations                                                                                  PART TWO: Method Through History Section I.  The Struggle of Method vs. Rhetoric from Antiquity to the Renaissance 1.  Before Method: Myth, Philosophy, and Rhetoric 2. The Originary Dislocation: Method and Rhetoric in Plato 3. The Triumph of Method: Aristotle 4. Developments from Cicero to Ramus: A synopsis Section II. Supremacy of Method in the Early Modern Age 5. Conceptual Revolutions 6. The Descartes Enigma Section III.  Reification and Crises of Method in Late Modernity 7. Introduction: The Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century 8. Continental Perspectives 9. Angloamerican Perspectives 10.  General Remarks on the Crises of Method PART THREE: Theory and Discourse 1. Rhetoric Between Method, Theory, and Interpretation 2. Perelman and the Rhetoric of Argument 3. Gadamer: Myth of Dialogue and Limits of Truth 4. The Challenge of the Rhetorical in Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics                      Coda 1. Of Interpreting 2. Of Hermes: symbolic, historical, existential 3. Of the Elusive Hermes Notes Bibliography Index of Names Index of Terms                       What they said:              In this opening salvo of a monumental project that will encompass four volumes, Peter Carravetta takes up with brio the ancient debate, first surfacing in Plato’s attempt to refute the Sophists and Protagoras, regarding the relationship of discourse, theory, and Being in Western thought. He shows convincingly how the post-Cartesian obsession with a reductive method calls for a reconsideration of the first principles of scientific, philosophical, and literary inquiries…. Offering fresh readings of figures as diverse as Aristotle and Peirce, Descartes and Perelman, the sparkling prose of this ambitious, comprehensive text inspires the reader to re-think the very foundations of language and the premises on which it rests. In the age of postmodernist anxiety and anomie, The Elusive Hermes offers timely hope for a renewal of the humanities in close communication with the sciences. — Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at SUNY, Stony Brook; author, most recently, of The World at a Glance and the forthcoming The World on Edge. This is a discourse on the rhetoric of method that investigates the often hidden relations between ontology and epistemology—between “a vision of being” and “a means to get to know it”—as those relations are articulated in our complex methodological languages. Articulated, but also shrouded, bound up, and hermetically sealed: the book’s title implies the difficulty involved in untying and disclosing these relations. This is one of the most significant contributions to the theory of interpretation since Gadamer’s Truth and Method. It bears on the interpretive strategies of contemporary metaphysics, sociological analysis, literary theory and criticism, and historical investigation, and suggests how to translate our findings “into meaningful, effective forms for a broader understanding of human experience,”… while elusive Hermes, the god of continuous transition, is always (at least) one inspired step ahead of us. — John Paul Russo, Professor of English and of Classics, University of Miami, author of The Future without a Past: The Humanities in a Technological Society (Thomas N. Bonner Award, 2006) About the Author: Peter Carravetta is Alfonse M. D’Amato Professor in Italian and Italian American Studies at Stony Brook University, NY, in the Department of European Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Author of several works in critical methods and the interpretation of contemporary culture, including Prefaces to the Diaphora (1991) and Del postmoderno (2009), he has written on poetics, history of ideas, migration, and aspects of postcolonial thought. He is also the author of a collection of poems, The Sun and Other Things (1997).
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