Cognitivism in respect to the arts refers to a constellation of positions that share in common the idea that artworks often bear, in addition to aesthetic value, a significant kind of cognitive value. In this paper I concentrate on three things: (i) the challenge of understanding exactly what one must do if one wishes to defend a cognitivist view of the arts; (ii) common anti-cognitivist arguments; and (iii) promising recent attempts to defend cognitivism.
Literary fiction is of crucial importance in human life. It is a source of understanding and insight into the nature of the human condition, yet ever since Plato, philosophers have struggled to provide a plausible explanation of how this can be the case. For surely the fictionality - the sheer invented character - of the literary text means that fiction presents not our world, but other worlds? In Fiction and the Weave of Life, John Gibson offers a novel and intriguing (...) account of the relationship between literature and everyday life, and shows how literature can give us an understanding of our world without literally being about our world. (shrink)
_The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature_ is an in-depth examination of literature through a philosophical lens, written by distinguished figures across the major divisions of philosophy. Its 40 newly-commissioned essays are divided into six sections: historical foundations what is literature? aesthetics & appreciation meaning & interpretation metaphysics & epistemology ethics & political theory _The Companion_ opens with a comprehensive historical overview of the philosophy of literature, including chapters on the study’s ancient origins up to the 18 th -20 th (...) centuries. The second part defines literature and its different categories. The third part covers the aesthetics of literature. The fourth and fifth sections discuss the meaning and consequences of philosophical interpretation of literature, as well as epistemological and metaphysical issues such as literary cognitivism and imaginative resistance. The sixth section contextualizes the place of philosophy of literature in the "real world" with essays on topics such as morality, politics, race and gender. Fully indexed, with helpful further reading sections at the end of each chapter, this Companion is an ideal starting point for those coming to philosophy of literature for the first time as well as a valuable reference for readers more familiar with the subject. (shrink)
A viable theory of literary humanism must do justice to the idea that literature offers cognitive rewards to the careful reader. There are, however, powerful arguments to the effect that literature is at best only capable of offering idle visions of a world already well known. In this essay I argue that there is a form of cognitive awareness left unmentioned in the traditional vocabulary of knowledge acquisition, a form of awareness literature is particularly capable of offering. Thus even if (...) it is the case that literature has nothing interesting to give us in the way of knowledge, the literary humanist can consistently maintain that literary experience is thoroughly cognitive. (shrink)
It is often assumed that literary meaning is essentially linguistic in nature and that literary interpretation is therefore a purely linguistic affair. This essay identifies a variety of literary meaning that cannot be reduced to linguistic meaning. Meaning of this sort is generated not by a communicative act so much as through a creative one: the construction of a fictional world. The way in which a fictional world can bear meaning turns out to be strikingly unlike the way a sentence (...) can, and this, I argue, has important implications for the theory of interpretation. (shrink)
This paper attempts to reconcile two apparently opposed ways of thinking about the imagination and its relationship to literature, one which casts it as essentially concerned with fiction-making and the other with culture-making. The literary imagination’s power to create fictions is what gives it its most obvious claim to “autonomy”, as Kant would have it: its freedom to venture out in often wild and spectacular excess of reality. The argument of this paper is that we can locate the literary imagination’s (...) complementary power of cultural articulation in this fictional activity. The suggestion is that we should conceive of the literary imagination as expressing its interests in culture not mimetically but by producing a certain kind of meaning. This meaning is irreducibly narratological, and understanding it helps us to see the role of narrative in bringing into harmony the literary imagination’s interests in both the imaginary and the real. (shrink)
_The Literary Wittgenstein_ is a stellar collection of articles relating the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to core problems in the theory and philosophy of literature. Amid growing recognition that Wittgenstein's philosophy has important implications for literary studies, this book brings together twenty-one articles by the most prominent figures in the field. Eighteen of the articles are published here for the first time. _The Literary Wittgenstein_ applies the approach of Wittgenstein to core areas of literary theory, including poetry, deconstruction, the ethical (...) value of literature, and the nature and logic of fictional discourse. The literary dimension of Wittgenstein's own writings is also explored, such as the authorial strategy of the _Tractatus_, and writing and method in the _Philosophical Investigations_. Major literary figures discussed in the book include William Faulkner, Joseph Conrad, and Friedrich Hölderlin. By mapping out the foundations of a new approach to literature, _The Literary Wittgenstein_ is essential reading for anyone interested in the relevance and application of Wittgenstein's thought to literary theory, aesthetics, and the philosophy of language and logic. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Poetry brings together philosophers of art, language, and mind to expose and address the array of problems poetry raises for philosophy. This volume offers a powerful demonstration of how central poetry should be to philosophy, and sets out the various puzzles and paradoxes that future work in the field will have to address.
A team of leading contributors from both philosophical and literary backgrounds have been brought together in this impressive book to examine how works of literary fiction can be a source of knowledge. Together, they analyze the important trends in this current popular debate. The innovative feature of this volume is that it mixes work by literary theorists and scholars with work of analytic philosophers that combined together provide a comprehensive statement of the variety of ways in which works of fiction (...) can engage questions of worldly interest. It uses the problem of cognitive value to explore: literature’s contribution to ethical life literature’s ability to engage in social and political critique the role narrative plays in opening up possibilities of moral, aesthetic, experience and selfhood This remarkable volume will attract the attention of both literature and philosophy scholars with its statement of the various ways that literature and life take an interest in one another. (shrink)