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.
There is little question as to whether there is good boring art, though its existence raises a number of questions for both the philosophy of art and the philosophy of emotions. How can boredom ever be a desideratum of art? How can our standing commitments concerning the nature of aesthetic experience and artistic value accommodate the existence of boring art? How can being bored constitute an appropriate mode of engagement with a work of art as a work of art? More (...) broadly, how can there be works of art whose very success requires the experience of boredom? Our goal in this paper is threefold. After offering a brief survey of kinds of boring art, we: i) derive a set of questions that we argue constitutes the philosophical problem of boring art; ii) elaborate an empirically informed theory of boredom that furnishes the philosophical problem with a deeper sense of the affect at the heart of the phenomenon; and iii) conclude by offering and defending a solution to the problem that explains why and how artworks might wish to make the experience of boredom key to their aesthetic and artistic success. (shrink)
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)
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)
Philosophers ask just whose expression, if anyone’s, we hear in lyric poetry. Walton provides a novel possibility: it’s the reader who “uses” the poem (just as a speech giver uses a speech) who makes the language expressive. But worries arise once we consider poems in particular social or political settings, those which require a strong self-other distinction, or those with expressions that should not be disassociated from the subjects whose experience they draw from. One way to meet this challenge is (...) to consider the poem expressive of a plural subject, which frees us from looking for a particular individual whose voice we hear in the work, whether she be fictional or actual. Some lyrics give voice to a group whose experience is attended to in the work. This may be done through a posited fictional speaker, but the ontology of the speaker is shown to be less important. Attending to a group whose concerns are voiced allows us to explain how poems can manage to address our-worldly concerns even when lacking actual persons whose expressions we encounter in the poems. (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)
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)
_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.
This study examines the consequences of cultural development on the emergence of contemporary sport. The current preoccupation with statistics and reductionist theories has objectified athletic performance to the extent that the scoreboard identifies excellence. Gibson offers an alternative position that focuses on the relationship of the athlete to the sport.
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)
Philosophers of literature do not take much of an interest in autobiography.1 In one sense this is not surprising. As a certain prejudice has it, autobiography is, along with biography, the preferred reading of people who do not really like to read. The very words can conjure up images of what one finds on bookshelves in Florida retirement communities and in underfunded public libraries, books with titles like Under the Rainbow: The Real Liza Minnelli or Me: Stories of My Life (...) (Katharine Hepburn).2 Hardly rousing material, at least from the philosophical point of view. But on a moment’s reflection, it becomes clear that the initial prejudice is unfounded. Never mind the fact that there are obviously .. (shrink)
While narrative has been one of the liveliest and most productive areas of research in literary theory, discussions of the nature of emotional responses to art and of the cognitive value of art tend to concentrate almost exclusively on the problem of fiction: How can we emote over or learn from fictions? _Narrative, Emotion, and Insight _explores what would happen if aestheticians framed the matter differently, having narratives—rather than fictional characters and events—as the object of emotional and cognitive attention. The (...) book thus opens up new possibilities for approaching questions about the ethical, educative, and cultural value of art. The nine essays in this volume introduce the study of narrative to contemporary aesthetics. (shrink)
Wittgenstein is often regarded as the most important philosopher of the twentieth century, and in recent decades, his work has begun to play a prominent role in literary studies, particularly in debates over language, interpretation, and critical judgment. Wittgenstein and Literary Studies solidifies this critical movement, assembling recent critics and philosophers who understand Wittgenstein as a counterweight to longstanding tendencies in both literary studies and philosophical aesthetics. The essays here cover a wide range of topics. Why have contemporary writers been (...) so drawn to Wittgenstein? What is a Wittgensteinian response to New Historicism, Post-Critique, and other major critical movements? How does Wittgenstein help us understand the nature of style, fiction, poetry, and the link between ethics and aesthetics? As the volume makes clear, Wittgenstein's work provides a rare bridge between professional philosophy and literary studies, offering us a way out of entrenched positions and their denials-what Wittgenstein himself called 'pictures' 'that held us captive.'. (shrink)