Dialectic and Narrative



Dialectic and narrative reflect the respective inclinations of philosophy and literature as disciplines that fix one another in a Sartrean gaze, admixing envy with suspicion. Ever since Plato and Aristotle distinguished scientific knowledge (episteme) from opinion (doxa) and valued demonstration through formal final causes over emplotment (mythos), the palm has been awarded to dialectic as the proper instrument of rational discourse, the arbiter of coherence, consistency, and ultimately of truth.

The matter becomes more complicated when we recognize the various uses of the term "dialectic" in the tradition, some of which complement and even overlap the narrative domain. By confronting these concepts with one another, either de facto or ex professo, the following essays not only raise anew the ancient questions of the identities of philosophy and literature, but do so in the context of recent "postmodern" challenges to their relative autonomy. 

Review Commentary

Dialectic and Narrative is a very important contribution to the emancipatory potential of our postmodern condition.… The internal critique of modernity—postmodern thought—is for some nothing more than a chaos of interpretation (Nietzschean nihilism). What these critics miss is the urgent and very difficult sense of responsibility pervading postmodern thought and its often perplexing contestations of modernity’s insistent denials of its discredited concepts and ideals. The essays that make up Dialectic and Narrative are responsive to this challenge.

James R. Watson, Loyola University

Table of Contents



Section I Philosophy and Literature: 

Crossing Borders

1. The Philosophy of Genre and the Genre of Philosophy – Louis Mackey

2. Helen and the Rape of Narrative: The Politics of Dissuasion – James I. Porter

Section II The Poetic and the Political: Marin Heidegger

3. Two Faces of Heidegger – Graeme Nicholson

4. Repositioning Heidegger – Herman Rapaport

5. Stevens, Heidegger, and the Dialectics of Abstraction and Empathy in Poetic Language – Matthias Konzett

6. Acoustics: Heidegger and Nietzsche on Words and Music – Dennis J. Schmidt

Section III Contesting Modernities

7. Modernity and Postmodernity – Fred Dallmayr

8. Secularization and the Disenchantment of the World – A.J. Cascardi

9. Modernity and the Misrepresentation of Representation – Stephen David Ross

10. Narrative, Dialectic, and Irony in Jameson and White – Candace D. Lang

Section IV Legitimacy and Truth

11. Reflections on the Anthropocentric Limits of Scientific Realism: Blumenberg and Myth, Reason, and the Legitimacy of the Modern Age – David Ingram

12. Blumenberg’s Third Way: Between Habermas and Gadamer – Robert M. Wallace

13. History, Art, and Truth: Wellmer’s Critique of Adorno – Lambert Zuidervaart

Section V Narrative Fictions: Theaters of Danger

14. Tragic Fiction of Identity and the Narrative Self – Dana Rudelic

15. Ethical Ellipsis in Narrative – Carol L. Bernstein

16. Dialectics of Experience: Brecht and the Theater of Danger – David Halliburton

Section VI Beyond Dialectics: At the Limits of Formalization

17. At the Limits of Formalization – Joseph Arsenault and Tony Brinkley

18. ON Fate: Psychoanalysis and the Desire to Know – Charles Shepherdson


Notes on Contributors

Notes on Editors


Book Details

382 pages

Published (c) 1993

ISBN10: 0-7914-1456-6
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-1456-9 

Ordering Information

Available in paperback ($31.95) and hardcover ($57.50)


State University of New York Press

SUNY Press