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Pol King Horne

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    AmericanJournal f

    Sociology

    Narrative

    Knowing and the Human Sciences. By Donald E. Polking-

    horne.

    Albany:

    State University f New YorkPress, 1988. Pp. xi+ 232.

    $44.50 (cloth);$14.95 (paper).

    RobertJ. Richards

    University f

    Chicago

    Donald Polkinghorne

    elieves that our lives are

    like playerswho strut

    and fret heirhour

    upon the stage. He proposes hatwe understand ur

    destiny y

    attending,

    ot

    to

    the stars

    r

    to the

    code

    bred

    n

    the bone, but

    to the

    plot

    that

    gathers up our scattered ctions

    and makes them

    significant.

    t is a

    tale that

    is

    told and that is to be

    comprehended

    scientificallynnarrative, nd we have beenspeaking t all along.

    In Narrative

    Knowing nd theHuman Sciences,Polkinghorne, pro-

    fessor

    f

    counseling

    nd a

    practicing

    sychotherapist, aintains hat hu-

    man beings xist

    n

    three ealms-the material

    ealm, heorganic ealm,

    and the realmof

    meaning p. 183).

    This last s

    the

    domain

    of

    thehuman

    sciences, nd

    developments

    n

    several of them

    uggest hat the keys

    to

    understanding

    re

    furnished

    y

    narrative.

    n

    a

    preliminaryhapter,he

    defines

    narrative s

    a

    story elating series

    of

    events, ither rue or

    false.

    Narrative onstruction

    nd

    comprehension

    orrespond,

    e

    asserts,

    to one oftwokindsofhumanrationality- narrativeationality, hich

    understandsynopticallyhemeaning f a whole,

    eeing t as

    a

    dialectic

    integration

    f

    ts

    parts

    p. 35),

    or theother

    kind,

    which

    uses

    formal

    ogic

    and mathematics nd dominates

    he

    sciences

    f

    the

    material

    nd

    organic

    realms.

    n

    three

    ubsequent hapters,

    olkinghorne,

    n

    summarizing

    he

    work

    f

    several heorists

    n

    history,iterature,

    nd

    psychology,

    ntends o

    providemodelsfor

    heotherhuman ciences,

    models ftheway narrative

    meaning oth

    produces nd explainshuman ction. t is thephilosophers

    of

    history-especially

    Ricoeur-who

    furnish

    olkinghorne

    iththe ele-

    ments fhis own

    conception f how narrative

    ught o function

    s the

    fundamentalnstrumentf the human sciences.

    In

    the current

    hilosophical ispute bout thenature fhistoricalx-

    planation,Polkinghorneides with hosewho believenarrative ccounts

    have a

    unique explanatory ower.

    In

    contrast, arl

    Hempel

    and other

    logical empiricistsrgue that every cience explainsevents

    by showing

    that

    hey

    re

    governed

    y general

    aws.

    Hempel

    maintains hatnarratives

    in

    history xplain events

    only

    to the extent

    hey

    make

    appeal

    to the

    requisite aws and

    antecedent auses. Polkinghorne

    grees hat hecover-

    ing

    aw

    modelserves he natural nd

    biological ciences, ut

    he thinks t

    fails o

    capture

    he

    meaning f

    human

    ction.

    n

    hisview, history

    nd

    theotherhuman sciences

    require

    kind of narrative

    ogic,

    which

    ssentially

    has two

    aspects:

    first-order

    entences hatrefer

    o

    events hat

    have actu-

    ally happened

    n

    the

    way reported

    n

    the sentences

    f

    the narratives

    p.

    62)

    and a second-order

    ynoptic

    oherence

    mong

    he

    statements,

    hat

    s,

    a

    configuration

    n

    a

    plot

    structure

    p. 63).

    It

    is

    the

    plot

    structure

    hat

    258

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    Book

    Reviews

    displays

    he human

    experiences oldabout, especially heir

    emporal i-

    mensions.

    Polkinghorne roposes hat person's wn narrative nderstandingf

    his

    or her ife auses thebehavior xpressive fthat ntimate

    tory;

    here-

    fore,

    n

    his

    view, scientistsmust earn o read people as theywould a text:

    Acting s like writing story, nd the understandingf

    action

    s

    like

    arriving

    t an

    interpretation

    fa

    story p. 142). t wouldbe a

    mistake, e

    thinks,

    o

    try

    o

    explain

    humanbehavior

    by usinggeneral aws,

    whether

    thesebe

    physical,

    biological,psychological,

    r

    social

    aws,

    since

    bodily

    movement s 'caused' by the

    meaning o be expressed p. 142).

    Polkinghorne's ook capturesthe enthusiasm or narrative

    hat

    has

    recently nimated much

    discussion

    n

    the philosophy fhistory nd in

    literaryheory.And he has done a decent ob of summarizinghevarious

    views expressed

    n

    theseareas, though, or he uninitiated,he

    descrip-

    tions

    may

    seem a

    little

    vague. However,

    there re

    several

    problems

    n

    Polkinghorne'sccount

    thatmay cause anyoneworking

    n

    empirical

    ci-

    ence

    or

    the philosophy f

    sciencehesitancy bout

    his conclusions.

    First, vagueness nvelops oomany fhisassertionsbout thenature

    of narrative

    nowledge, or

    nstance,

    when

    he proclaims

    hat he

    human

    sciences do not produce

    knowledge hat leads to the

    prediction

    nd

    controlof human experience; hey produce, instead,

    knowledge hat

    deepensand enlarges he understanding f humanexistence p. 159).

    Since the

    Enlightenment,

    he

    criteria f

    science,

    hat

    s, knowledge

    hat

    deepens nd enlarges he

    understanding, ave been prediction

    nd con-

    ceptual

    control

    hrough heapplication f general rinciples.

    t is incum-

    bent

    n

    anyone ttempting

    o

    discover nother

    ind f

    rationality

    o show

    that t s

    notmerelyhe

    complexity

    f

    situations nd poverty

    f

    appropri-

    ate

    laws that

    distinguish

    he humanfrom he natural ciences.Although

    the

    ntecedentsfa human

    ct maynever xactly eoccur, his tself

    oes

    not

    mply hatthemeaning f narrative ause is different

    rom cause

    in

    formal cience, s Polkinghorneeems o think p. 173)-else

    we must

    abandonthedeathofthedinosaurs rtheformationfour solar ystem o

    storytellersutside hepale of formal cience. urely, ther

    hings eing

    equal,

    we

    accept

    as

    plausible

    a

    narrative istory hat conformso rele-

    vant,well-confirmed

    hysical, iological, r psychological

    rinciples nd

    reject s implausible

    history hat violates uch principles.

    Polkinghorne's

    wn

    analysis

    of

    narrative,while making

    ome

    inter-

    esting points especiallyabout its

    temporaldimensions),

    acks the re-

    sources

    to

    establishnecessary istinctionsn applying

    narrative o the

    explanation

    f human

    actions.So, for nstance,whenhe

    maintains

    hat

    we

    construct ur

    own

    behavior

    much as a

    writer ormulates

    narrative

    text-an interestingdea with ome potential-he goes ittle urtherhan

    reiteratinghe proposal.He never attempts o distinguish, or

    nstance,

    the everal

    basic

    ways

    n

    which

    meaning

    s

    expressed

    n

    narrative.

    n

    our

    personalnarratives,when

    the author s simultaneouslyheactor, t snot

    easy

    to see

    how variouskinds

    of meaningmight e comparablyxpressed

    259

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    AmericanJournal f Sociology

    or be the narrative ause of behavior.Shakespeare, t

    seems, ntended

    the

    actions

    of

    the porter

    n

    Macbeth

    to

    provide

    emotional elief efore

    another oundof heinousmurder, ut the character imselfntended o

    morethan to respond o the knocking s

    if he were

    themerry eeper

    f

    the devil's door.

    If

    we are gatekeepers pinning ut ouractions long

    a

    narrative ine, we may hear the knocking, ut not recognize he purpose

    of the

    maginary

    oor.

    FeministTheory

    nd the Philosophies

    of Man. By Andrea Nye.

    New

    York:

    Croom Helm, 1988. Pp. x

    +

    244.

    $49.95.

    SondraFarganis

    New

    Schoolfor

    Social Research

    Feminist

    Theory

    nd thePhilosophies

    of

    Man is a succinct ummary

    f

    theways

    n

    which

    feminist

    heoryncountersnd does battle

    with

    iberal-

    ism,Marxism,

    psychology,

    nd structuralism.

    ndrea Nye finds

    hat

    these theories

    llow fordialogue

    with menbut do

    not significantly

    d-

    vance feministbjectives.

    Can women

    use these heories

    without

    ntrap-

    ment?Working

    verthese

    heories elps orrect

    he heories,

    uta femin-

    ist perspectiveequires

    uilding n

    women's

    xperiences. y using

    s her

    prologueOvid's taleofa weavingcontest etweenAthena ndArachne,

    Nye

    sets

    the frame orher nterpretiveeading

    f feministheory.

    ome

    women

    use the ext nd

    symbols f

    male argumentation,

    nly o

    be bested

    by

    thosewho drawon

    female xperience

    owrite heir

    tories.

    et, those

    whoweave

    in

    women's

    terms

    re,

    whilefiner raftsmen

    r

    women,

    di-

    vorced

    from

    ower.

    Liberal

    democratic heory nd

    socialist ritiques

    f capitalism

    do

    not

    explaingender

    nequity,

    nor have the social

    movements

    ndertaken

    n

    their

    ame

    alleviated

    heplight f

    oppressed

    women.Equal rights,

    qual-

    ity fopportunity,nd theright fparticipationndconsentweredenied

    women

    whenthey ould

    notvote.

    While iberals

    f

    the

    Humean

    or Rous-

    seauistic

    tripe,

    nd

    even

    women

    ike

    Madame

    de

    Stael,

    called attention

    o

    women'sdifferencesnatural

    nd social)

    frommen,democratic

    heory er

    se allowed fora new conception

    f persons.

    By

    emphasizing

    he social

    and

    legal

    nature

    f

    relationships

    nd by formulating

    erygeneral

    rinci-

    plesof natural

    nd equal

    rights,iberalism

    ighted heway

    for quitable

    treatment

    f

    those

    not

    yet

    ncluded

    n

    the

    fraternal ond.

    The lead was

    takenby Mary

    Wollstonecraft,arrietTaylor,

    and

    John

    tuart

    Mill.

    Legal

    equality-freedom

    from overt)

    iscrimination-has

    not

    ssured

    womengenuine,equitable social and economictreatment. uch treat-

    ment

    requires

    constantstate intervention,

    hich, Nye argues,

    runs

    counter o iberal

    democratic heory.

    Moreover, uch

    theory

    ests n ideas

    of ndividual ights hat

    re often

    n

    conflict

    ith ach other,

    s

    in

    abor-

    tion and

    pornography

    isputes woman

    vs. fetus, ight

    o view pornog-

    260

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