Sunday, February 12, 2006

Speak no evil

Backwards City links to an essay endorsing Wayne Booth’s “Hippocratic Oath for the Pluralist”:
  1. I will publish nothing, favorable or unfavorable, about books or articles I have not read through at least once. (By “publish” I mean any writing or speaking that “makes public,” including term papers, theses, course lectures, and conference papers.)
  2. I will try to publish nothing about any book or article until I have understood it, which is to say, until I have reason to think that I can give an account of it that the author himself will recognize as just.
  3. I will take no critic’s word, when he discusses other critics, unless he can convince me that he has abided by the first two ordinances. I will assume, until a critic proves otherwise, that what he says against the playing style of other critics is useful, at best, as a clue to his own game. I will be almost as suspicious when he presents a “neutral” summary and even when he praises.
  4. I will not undertake any project that by its very nature requires me to violate Ordinances 1-3.
  5. I will not judge my own inevitable violations of the first four ordinances more leniently than those I find in other critics.