The comments on my post about Rawls and reading a philosophical text indicates that I failed to make myself clear, so let me try one more time. S. Wallerstein asks “Couldn't you say that Plato's Republic is one educated Greek's sense of justice? Does that make it any less worth reading? If that is the case, why does the fact that Rawls’ Theory of Justice is one educated person's sense of justice make it any less worth reading?”
Of course you can say, if you believe it, that Plato’s Republic is one educated Greek’s sense of justice. And if that makes the Republic an interesting work for you, then by all means read it that way. The same for A Theory of Justice [although no one is going to suggest that they are equally great works.] My point was that powerful works of philosophy can sustain competing and even diametrically opposed readings because their authors are struggling with the articulation of insights that may not be entirely compatible with one another and which they may have difficulty bringing to the surface of their writing. Inasmuch as “powerful” in this context is not descriptive but rather evaluative, serious readers will differ not only about how to interpret certain texts but even about which texts deserve the encomium “powerful.”
Why am I not interested in reading A Theory of Justice as “one (educated) person’s” sense of justice? Because I do not find John Rawls to be in this regard an interesting person. Jack was very smart and very widely educated, but his writing exhibits no influence of Freud, of Marx, of Mannheim, of Durkheim, no easy familiarity with the concepts of ideology, repression, projection, displacement, little or no evidence of having been powerfully influenced by great novelists or poets. His perspective is transparently that of an upper middle class member of the privileged professoriate. Indeed, as I show in my book [but cannot go into here as it involves some technical mathematics], his argument for maximin as the principle of choice in the Original Position makes sense only if one assumes that the person deliberating is just such an upper middle class professional pretty well satisfied with his place in the income pyramid.
BUT THAT IS JUST ME. That is not intended as an argument that no one else should find Rawls’s book interesting as a meditation on one (educated) person’s reflection on his sense of justice. It would be absurd to say to someone, “You ought not to find that interesting, even though you say you do.”
By the way, is there anyone out there sophisticated enough as a reader to understand the deep significance of the brackets around the word “educated?” I say no more.