Review: Himmelfarb, Mill, and the Dodges of Liberty

Fromm, Harold. "Himmelfarb, Mill, and the Dodges of Liberty." The Hudson Review 47, no. 3. 1994.


What happens to our passion for literature when any “text” qualifies as literature, when theory is elevated above poetry and the critic above the poet, and when literature, interpretation, and theory alike are said to be indeterminate and infinitely malleable? What happens to our respect for philosophy?the “love of wisdom,” as it once was?when we are told that philosophy has nothing to do with either wisdom or virtue, that what passes as metaphysics is really linguistics, that morality is a form of aesthetics, and that the best thing we can do is not to take philosophy seriously? And what happens to our sense of the past when we are told that there is no past save that which the historian creates … ? And what happens when we look into the abyss and see no real beasts but only a pale reflection of ourselves?of our particular race, class, and gender; or, worse yet, when we see only the metaphorical, rhetorical, mythical, linguistic, semiotic, figurative, fictive simulations of our imagination?

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