Various aspects of poetic meaning are discussed, centred on the relation of form and content. A C Bradley's thesis of form-content identity, suitably reformulated, is defended against criticisms by Peter Kivy. It is argued that the unity of form-content is not discovered in poetry so much as demanded of it when poetry is read 'as poetry'. A shift of emphasis from talking about 'meaning' in poetry to talking about 'content' is promoted, as is a more prominent role for 'experience' in (...) characterising responses to poetry and its value. It is argued that the key to poetic meaning lies less in a theory of meaning, more in a theory of poetry, where what matters are modes of reading poetry. Content-identity in poetry is said to be 'interest-relative' such that no absolute answer, independent of the interests of the questioner, can determine when a poem and a paraphrase have the same content. Interpretation of poetry need not focus exclusively on meaning, but on ways in which the experience of a poem can be heightened. (shrink)
The paper argues that there is a proper place for literature within aesthetics but that care must be taken in identifying just what the relation is. In characterising aesthetic pleasure associated with literature it is all too easy to fall into reductive accounts, for example, of literature as merely “fine writing”. Belleslettrist or formalistic accounts of literature are rejected, as are two other kinds of reduction, to pure meaning properties and to a kind of narrative realism. The idea is developed (...) that literature—both poetry and prose fiction—invites its own distinctive kind of aesthetic appreciation which far from being at odds with critical practice, in fact chimes well with it. (shrink)
The paper offers an overview of, and critical comments on, Michael Krausz’s Limits of Rightness. It focuses on three key aspects of the book’s intellectual framework: the ideals of interpretation, the objects of interpretation, and the ontological commitments of interpretation. The paper discusses how exactly these aspects are related Krausz’s views on constructive realism, in particular its relation to objects of interpretation, become crucial. His comments on Paul Thom’s theory of interpretations provide a context for examining the role of ‘construction’ (...) in objects per se and in works of art and a tripartite distinction between object, work and interpretation is proposed. (shrink)
The paper offers a mildly deflationary account of narrative, drawing attention to the minimal, thus easily satisfied, conditions of narrativity and showing that many of the more striking claims about narrative are either poorly supported or refer to distinct classes of narrative—usually literary or fictional—which provide a misleading paradigm for narration in general. An enquiry into structural, referential, pragmatic, and valuebased features of narrative helps circumscribe the limits of narration and the test case of the narrative definition of the (...) self is examined and shown to yield rather less that is often claimed. (shrink)
The paper considers what kinds of things are musical, literary, pictorial and sculptural works, how they relate to physical objects or abstract types, and what their identity and survival conditions are. Works are shown to be cultural objects with essential intentional and relational properties. These essential properties are connected to conditions of production and conditions of reception, of both a generic and work-specific kind. It is argued that work-identity is value-laden, whereby essential to the survival of a work is the (...) quality of the experience the work affords. However, the overall stance is realist, defending the view that works are real, perceivable, and objectively characterisable. (shrink)
This book examines the complex and varied ways in which fictions relate to the real world, and offers a precise account of how imaginative works of literature can use fictional content to explore matters of universal human interest. While rejecting the traditional view that literature is important for the truths that it imparts, the authors also reject attempts to cut literature off altogether from real human concerns. Their detailed account of fictionality, mimesis, and cognitive value, founded on the methods of (...) analytical philosophy, restores to literature its distinctive status among cultural practices. The authors also explore metaphysical and skeptical views, prevalent in modern thought, according to which the world itself is a kind of fiction, and truth no more than a social construct. They identify different conceptions of fiction in science, logic, epistemology, and make-believe, and thereby challenge the idea that discourse per se is fictional and that different modes of discourse are at root indistinguishable. They offer rigorous analyses of the roles of narrative, imagination, metaphor, and "making" in human thought processes. Both in their methods and in their conclusions, Lamarque and Olsen aim to restore rigor and clarity to debates about the values of literature, and to provide new, philosophically sound foundations for a genuine change of direction in literary theorizing. (shrink)
The paper discusses the principle by which we reason to what is ‘true in fiction’. The focus is David Lewis's article ‘Truth in Fiction’ (1978) which proposes an analysis in terms of counterfactuals and possible worlds. It is argued thatLewis's account is inadequate in detail and also in principle in that it conflicts radically with basic and familiar tenets of literary criticism. Literary critical reasoning about fiction concerns not the discovery of facts in possible worlds but the recovery of meanings (...) in interpretative frameworks. The model theoretic approach fails to account for common literary or rhetorical devices like unreliable narration, connotation and point of view. And in explaining indeterminacy of content in terms of truth-value gaps it gives too simplistic an account of critical reasoning about character motivation and thematic development. A more adequate account of content-indeterminacy can be provided through a comparison of the interpretation of fiction with the interpretation of human action. A broader motif in the paper is the underlying tension between what is required for the logic of fiction and what is required for the aesthetics of fiction. (shrink)
This is a short note on a problem arising from lewis's account of 'truth in fiction'. In the case of the unreliable narrator, A writer, On lewis's view, Must pretend to pretend. An explanation is offered for this in terms of mimicry or impersonation, And some consequences drawn about fictional ontology.