Archaeology of Criticism



"Our knowledge of the world instructs us first of all that the world is greater than our knowledge of it." [Wendell Berry, Standing By Words 64 (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983)]

"[M]an lives at an interface between opposites: earth and sky, sea and shore, life and death. Yet it is precisely the interface between opposites that is the place of transformation and the energy of that transformation comes from remaining poised at the perilous edge; a slight movement to either side brings dissolution into uniformity." [William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order 4 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976)]

"To satisfy our longing for acceptance and recognition, to be intimately assured that we have a place in the world, and to be freed by this assurance for a life of action and encounter, we must open ourselves to personal attachments and communal engagements whose terms we cannot predefine and whose course we cannot control. Each of these ventures into a life of longing for other people threatens to create a craven dependence and to submerge our individual selves under group identities and social roles.

We cannot obtain the categories that allow us to describe our situation and to reflect about ourselves unless we share in specific, historically conditioned traditions of discourse that none of us authored individually. Without these categories the imagination cannot work. But with them we cannot easily prevent ourselves from becoming the unwitting reproducers of a shared picture of the world. If we stray too far or too quickly from the collective script we are left without a way to converse." [Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Passions: An Essay on Personality 20-21 (New York: Free Press, 1984)]

"[T]he fact that the self has to find its moral identity in and through its membership in communities...does not entail that the self has to accept the moral limitations of the particularity of those forms of community. Without those moral particularities to begin from there would never be anywhere to begin; but it is in moving forward from such particularity that the search for the good, for the universal, consists." [Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue 205 (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981)]

"These pains [of professional mastery] are seldom eroded by success; as we proceed to higher and higher levels of expertise, and as the stakes get higher and higher, the agonies of excellence reappear in new and frightening ways." [Robert Grudin, The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation 85 (New York: Ticknor & fields, 1990)]


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