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Monday, April 15, 2013

Some axioms on exceptionalism

2. Exceptionalism is the literary child of romanticism.

3. Exceptionalism, then, is the “foundational fiction” for the study of national literatures.

4. Because of this foundational romanticism, the ideology of exceptionalism is attractive to literary intellectuals.

5. Cultural exceptionalism is neither true nor false.


Thomas said...

Is cultural exceptionalism nonetheless sometimes just and sometime unjust (even sometimes good and sometimes evil?). I'm thinking here of what Wayne Booth calls the "ethics" of reading ("the company we keep"). It strikes me that exceptionalism is precisely not an epistemic category (capable of truth and falsity in particular applications) but, rather, and ethical one.

Jonathan said...

I'm not giving all my axioms at once, there are 13 of them, and there are others that address this exact question. My point is going to be that exceptionalism is ideologicallly suspect even when it seems to be "good." Or that it is not true even when we like its particular forms or uses. Being an edifiyng narrative does not make it true,

Jonathan said...

It's also important to talk about the epistemological question first, so that we don't think:

a narrative is true because it is edifying

a narrative is false because it is reactionary

if you question the truth value of an edifying narrative, you are conservative


Thomas said...

Thanks. This is interesting.

Anonymous said...

Strategic exceptionalism???

Or have you already considered this (did I get this idea from you)?