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The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities

Christopher Fynsk
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    The Claim of Language
    Book Description:

    In The Claim of Language, Christopher Fynsk clearly and eloquently defends and rearticulates the humanities from a perspective that moves beyond the political and philosophical reductions of identity politics. Leaving aside polemics, Fynsk asserts that discourses in the humanities will find real ethical-political purchase when they engage with the material events in art, literature, and social life that call for humanistic reflection.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9675-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Toward Fundamental Research in the Humanities
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    Early in 2001, well before the events of September 11, a young student originally from Afghanistan came to me to inquire about a major in comparative literature. Her principal goal was to complete her preparation for medical school, since she and her sisters were planning to open a medical clinic in their home country, but two courses in comparative literature had confirmed that her greatest intellectual pleasure came from literature and the arts. She wondered whether it would be possible to pursue a dual major.

    As one may well imagine, my thoughts about this encounter evolved considerably over the subsequent...

  4. Part I

    • A Politics of Thought: Gérard Granel’s De l’université
      (pp. 3-22)

      More than twenty-five years ago, and well before the celebrated Heidegger controversy, Gérard Granel wrote an essay titled “A Call to All Those Having to Do with the University (in Order to Prepare Another).”¹ I understood this extraordinary text (playful, but also highly serious) to be a subversive repetition of Heidegger’s proposals in his infamous “Rectorial Address”—an uncompromising deconstruction of Heidegger, in other words, but also a reappropriation of some of the genuinely critical and transformative elements of his thinking. When the controversy ensued, about a decade later, it seemed to me time to repeat the call, in an...

    • Acts of Engagement
      (pp. 23-38)

      I turn here to Derrida’s extensive writings on the institution of philosophy,¹ specifically to two essays that issued from his efforts to help create and set underway the Collège International de Philosophie—two founding documents for an institution that helped shape philosophical work in France through the 1990s. I read these essays, “Titres” and “Envois,” as companion pieces, though the first, an exposition of the historical and philosophical exigencies to which the Collège would respond, is in many ways preparatory for the statement—the invitation, let us say—that Derrida advances in the second. By reading them together, however, we...

  5. Part II

    • The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities
      (pp. 41-76)

      How can we speak for the humanities today? Can we speak in their name to evoke a necessary task for thought?

      I raise the Wrst question largely in the context of academic and public policy and from experiences of institutional decline. As an administrator and faculty member seeking to address the health of the humanities in a public university, I have discovered that requests for significant resources are not merely discounted in light of other priorities—they frequently meet uncomprehending or indifferent ears.¹ It is becoming clear that the very existence of the humanities in many universities—or anything more...

  6. Notes
    (pp. 77-104)
  7. Index
    (pp. 105-106)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 107-107)