A Way in the World: A Novel by V. S. Naipaul

By V. S. Naipaul

In his long-awaited, enormously cutting edge new novel, Naipaul, "one of literature's nice travelers" (Los Angles Times), spans continents and centuries to create what's straight away an autobiography and a fictional archaeology of colonialism. "Dickensian . . . a super new prism by which to view (Naipaul's) existence and work."--New York occasions.

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Equally important (for our purposes in this chapter) is that this recognition requires that intellectualists have a strategy for explicating these theoretical sys­ tems embedded in symbolic materials. Horton adopts the semantic program of the logical empiricists, emphasizing the distinction between theory and obser­ vation and the need to connect theoretical terms to observational ones in logically perspicuous fashions (Penner 1986b). Religion is about the world in the same way that a scientific theory is about the world; the terms of both refer and the claims of both can be true or false to the extent that they correspond to matters of fact.

While we appreciate their contributions, we cannot be content with them, because they either ignore considerations of form or (in the case of the structuralists) they underestimate the complexity of such considerations. In all three cases, despite their emphasis upon content, they have incomplete semantic theories. ) It is our intention both to commend and to criticize various aspects of the three theories we examine. We commend them because they recognize the value of explanatory theorizing and because they anticipate the approach that we will advocate.

O f course, these explanatory prob­ lems provoke new explanatory proposals in their turn. It is the combination of this semantic slack and these sorts of vicissitudes and consequences of a theory’s empirical application that motivates the theoretical adjustments that contribute to the growth of knowledge. It is the generality of a theory’s explanatory princi­ ples, then, in conjunction with the abstractness of its concepts (that those princi­ ples mutually employ) that insures that the theory will meet the second requirement that it prove em pirically tractable in domains beyond that to which it was initially applied.

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