According to Jonathan Gottschall (writing in the Boston Globe a week or so ago), "Literary criticism could be one of our best tools for understanding the human condition. But first, it needs a radical change: embracing science." Understandably, this tosh has been batted about the blogosphere, but the finest response came on Sunday from our very own Stephen Mitchelmore who marshals Barthes (whom Gottschall caricatures and misreads), Blanchot and Heidegger against Gottschall's silly scientism:
Power is what Gottschall and the literary bloggers sympathetic to his call remain in thrall to. In their case it is the understandable desire for "relevance", a respected academic career and a book-buying public ready to afford criticism the same market share as popular science. However, for Barthes and Blanchot (and Heidegger before them in Poetry, Language, Thought) the focus remains literature itself.