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Posts Tagged ‘Wittgenstein’

Henry Hazlitt, Literary Critic

In American History, Arts & Letters, Austrian Economics, Book Reviews, Creative Writing, Creativity, Economics, Essays, Ethics, Fiction, History, Humane Economy, Humanities, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy, Writing on March 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

Allen Mendenhall

The following appeared here at Prometheus Unbound and here at Mises.org.

Remembered mostly for his contributions to economics, including his pithy and still-timely classic Economics in One Lesson (1946), Henry Hazlitt was a man who wore many hats. He was a public intellectual and the author or editor of some 28 books, one of which was a novel, The Great Idea (1961) — published in Britain and later republished in the United States as Time Will Run Back (1966) — and another of which, The Anatomy of Criticism (1933), was a trialogue on literary criticism. (Hazlitt’s book came out 24 years before Northrop Frye published a book of criticism under the same title.) Great-great-grandnephew to British essayist William Hazlitt, the boy Henry wanted to become like the eminent pragmatist and philosopher-psychologist William James, who was known for his charming turns of phrase and literary sparkle. Relative poverty would prevent Hazlitt’s becoming the next James. But the man Hazlitt forged his own path, one that established his reputation as an influential man of letters.

In part because of his longstanding support for free-market economics, scholars of literature have overlooked Hazlitt’s literary criticism; and Austrian economists — perhaps for lack of interest, perhaps for other reasons — have done little to restore Hazlitt’s place among the pantheon of 20th century literary critics. Yet Hazlitt deserves that honor.

He may not have been a Viktor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson, Cleanth Brooks, William K. Wimsatt, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Lionel Trilling, Dwight Macdonald, or Kenneth Burke, but Hazlitt’s criticism is valuable in negative terms: he offers a corrective to much that is wrong with literary criticism, both then and now. His positive contributions to literary criticism seem slight when compared to those of the figures named in the previous sentence. But Hazlitt is striking in his ability to anticipate problems with contemporary criticism, especially the tendency to judge authors by their identity. Hazlitt’s contributions to literary criticism were not many, but they were entertaining and erudite, rivaling as they did the literary fashions of the day and packing as much material into a few works as other critics packed into their entire oeuvres. Read the rest of this entry »

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Law and the Ordinary, by Alexandre Lefebvre

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Jurisprudence, Law-and-Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, News and Current Events, Politics, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Writing on April 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Allen Mendenhall

One of my favorite journals, Telos, has published an essay that might interest readers of this site.  The essay, by Alexandre Lefebvre, is titled “Law and the Ordinary: Hart, Wittgenstein, Jurisprudence.”  Here is the abstract:

This essay argues that H. L. A. Hart’s concept of jurisprudence in the first chapter of The Concept of Law is strongly influenced by the relationship that Wittgenstein establishes between ordinary and metaphysical language. The article is divided into three sections. The first section shows how jurisprudence emerges as a denial of ordinary language in its pursuit of a definition of law. The second section traces Hart’s use of ordinary language to identify idleness or emptiness in jurisprudence. The third section presents Hart’s conception of his work as therapeutic in its attempt to lead jurisprudence back to the everyday.

Telos is one of the few literary-theoretical journals that regularly challenges the critical and political orthodoxy that pits itself, ironically, as the unorthodox, progressive, or transgressive.

Indeed, Telos seriously considers repressed, unpopular, and unapproved thoughts and theories. It complicates “conservative” and “liberal” as meaningful categories of discourse.

Having published such controversial authors as Paul Gottfried, Clyde Wilson, Alain de Benoist and others who situate themselves on the right-wing of the political spectrum, Telos is committed to contemplation and speculation, to profound and difficult ideas and not fashionable or typical recitations of mainstream opinions.

The journal has a long history of interrogating and revising critical theory and critiquing culture and society, and it continues to publish notable scholarship in traditions both left and right, although the signifiers left and right are not useful starting points from which to analyze anything that appears in this journal.

Paul Piconne was the founder and long-term editor of Telos.  Piconne died in 2004.  Today the editor is Russell A. Berman.  The only publication as daring and interesting as Telos is Counterpunch, a political newsletter and not an academic journal.  I urge readers of this site to read both Telos and Counterpunch as often and as closely as possible.

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