By Jan Plug
Explores the position of language, heritage, and politics in Romantic literature and idea, from Kant to Yeats.
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Additional info for Borders of a Lip: Romanticism, Language, History, Politics
As soon as the political is understood as analogous to critical philosophy, it must be critical and not doctrinal; that is, the political like the philo- Borders of a Lip Pt. 1 9/18/03 8:55 AM Page 21 “As if ” History—Kant, Then and Now 21 sophical cannot have its rule outside itself in a doctrine or system that could judge once and for all that the political is legitimated. Rather, even because the political is an analogue of the philosophical, it must itself be critical (or else the analogy would dissolve) and that means that it must itself be the judge.
The initial disengagement is ultimately the dislocation of philosophy from the world, which should lead to philosophy’s reengagement in the world. But, as we have seen, such a reengagement appears impossible, for it supposes philosophy to have been engaged before the fact. This double bind cannot be recuperated (as something like an oversight, an accident, an imprecision in terminology), for the argument in fact depends upon it. ” This is no slip, no mere error on Lyotard’s part; rather, he follows the Kantian conception of the symbolic with precision here.
It would put in question, at the very least, any attempt to read a text, a concept, or even a historical situation in terms of an already elaborated rule or theory, although this would equally be the case for studies that in no way understand themselves as theoretical. What is more, any attempt merely to “apply” (the word is Lyotard’s  but is pervasive enough in critical theory) a theory could no longer be called “critical”—perhaps not even “theory”—with any rigor. In order to earn the name, such critical theory would itself have to be the object of its critique, would have to legitimate itself as truly critical.