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Since at Least Plato-- [Hardcover]

M. J. Devaney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1997 0312175116 978-0312175115
'Since at Least Plato...' and Other Postmodernist Myths surveys the fields of theories of postmodernism and criticizes some of the most common claims found in them about philosophy, science, and the relationship and literary techniques to metaphysics, epistemology, and political ideologies. Devaney finds the accounts offered by these theories of concepts ranging from the law of noncontradiction to relativity and the Uncertainty Principle to be as ill-informed as they are pervasive. Devaney shows how the use to which these accounts have been put in constructing the story of the progression from realism to postmodernism to modernism flattens out both the history of ideas and the history of literature.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312175116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312175115
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,081,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant dismantling of Postmodernist assumptions October 28, 1998
Ms. Devaney's book is a thorough and lucid dismantling of the naive philosophical assumptions and blatant non-sequiturs which too often inform "postmodern" thought. This book is required reading for both practitioners and critics of postmodernism. Beginning with a demonstration of postmodernism's misunderstanding and misappropriation of classical formal logic, she proceeds to show how postmodern thinkers have misconstrued, among other things, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Bohr's theorem, and Einstein's theory of special relativity. Her charges are levelled mainly at postmodern rather than post-structuralist critics, but they are equally telling against the latter. DeVaney successfully unravels the sophistry of Derrida's reading of Plato in his "Plato's Pharmacy", thereby depriving deconstruction of one of its paradigm examples of the virtues of the deconstructive method. Moreover, DeVaney questions the validity of the post-structuralist appeal to Saussure's linguistic theories. On her reading, Saussure's system demonstrates how words take on meaning and not what they mean, thus reducing the post-structuralist contention that words don't refer to an external reality to utter nonsense. Ms. DeVaney's book is without question the most well-informed critique of the pretensions of postmodern thought that I have encountered. In one sense, it is too well-informed. Her arguments are so compelling that postmodern theorists are likely to ignore them altogether; for sustained reflection on their implications will reveal that Ms. DeVaney has utterly demolished an entire genre of literary theory.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent July 8, 2003
This book is a very good read for students. All who are tired of the new intellectual orthodoxy can acquire a trove of swift and mighty swords if they will master this book. There are weapons and armor of every shape and size here, something for about any fight one may join in the swamps of postmodernism.
Devaney takes on the entire rhetoric involved in calling logic binary. She devastates the typical Hegelian errors PoMo theorists make about the law of noncontradiction. Her prose is lucid and swift. The book is of appropriate length, i.e, not too long, I would say. I did want more. I have seen no other book of work like this from a competent logician.
Devaney is very fair minded. For example, she separates Derrida from the pack who moralize the young over the bogey of 'binary logic' and 'binary thinking' and 'binary' everything else. That discussion is most valuable for anyone up against it in a hall full of irrationalists. Their paradoxes and stuff are usually just confusions. The chapter on the politics of the Logic of Both/And is superb. Derrida says all kinds of irresponsible stuff, and those who support him just moralize and politicize. Devaney has it that the myth of the 'Logic of Both/And' -- which is alleged to be true only when the law of non-contradiction is false--is not really Derrida's. It is a gift to Derrida from his followers -- the underlings made it up in his name.
Those who master this whole book will have a field day in the battle against the swelled and bloated croakers in the backwaters of the hatred of logic and science. So far as I know, this is the best logician's handbook against the current nonsense in existence. As a tour of the madhouse where logic is postmodernized, it is unsurpassed as well.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will change the world March 3, 1998
By A Customer
This is an extraordinary attack on the sloppiness, imprecision, and general vacuity of "poststructuralist" theory as it has come to dominate American literature departments. There are lots of books out there bemoaning the state of literary studies today, and the surrender of literary studies to identity politics, etc. But Devaney moves in with a tremendous command of several important points in symbolic logic, cogently shows how the failure to take certain logical distinctions -- elementary to a first-year college logic student -- has turned most English department "theory" into a species of grandiose nonsense, and then proceeds to obliterate, one by one, a succession of "theorists" holding forth in their fuzzy way about "the logic of either/or," "binary logic," etc. She leaves the "real" poststructuralists (Foucault, Derrida, et al) strictly alone, presumably because she thinks they're a lot more rigorous than their American followers, but the job she does on the Theory Wannabes is breathtaking. I once saw an entire house being treated for cockroaches. They totally sealed it off, closed every crack and pore in the plastic covering, and then proceeded to pump in a thousand gallons of pesticide spray. The pesticide rendered itself harmless after a few hours, and when the house was unsealed every cockroach was dead. Reading Devaney on contemporary literary studies is a bit like that experience.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and intelligence combined June 9, 2000
_`Since at Least Plato...'_ is exceptional and lucid, a necessary tonic in these times, but in case someone has the impression that anyone writing on these matters does so with a cold eye, I would like them to think otherwise.
Ms Devaney writes with a passion for truth, for intellectual honesty, and for literary works, and passion is considered out of place in the overripe (hence, on the verge of death) cool ironic mode prevalent today in much literary theory. It is as refreshing to see a heart ablaze as it is to witness a mind relentlessly examining what is regarded as critical thought in the areas of cultural studies and the humanities.
If Ms Devaney's words only burned through faddish arguments, then there would be little beauty present; but she restores, with vigor, and in clear terms, logical thought as the centrepiece of respectable theory. She is to be commended not only for her forthright remarks, but for her belief that a sustained, intelligent, and intelligible, dialogue with readers will result in a better understanding of many theorists so popular today.
Their popularity is up and down, but the strength of mind and conviction of soul in Devaney's work are constants which distinguish her book from so many others in this field.
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