Recently, a number of Anglo-American philosophers of very different sorts--pragmatists, metaphysicians, philosophers of language, philosophers of law, moral philosophers--have taken a reflective rather than merely recreational interest in literature. Does this literary turn mean that philosophy is coming to an end or merely down to earth? In this collection of essays, one of the most insightful of contemporary literary theorists investigates the intersection of literature and philosophy, analyzing the emerging preferences for practice over theory, particulars over universals, (...) events over structures, inhabitants over spectators, an ethics of responsibility over a morality of rules, and a desire for intimacy with the world instead of simply a disengaged knowledge of it. (shrink)
Precursors of the linguistic turn: German philosophy of language in the late 19th century -- From text to discourse: a shift towards a pragmatic interpretation of "fictionality" -- Projecting a science of literature: on a theoretical basis for a rational science of literature -- The empirical science of literature ESL: a new paradigm -- From literary communication to literary systems -- Implementations: conventions and literary systems -- Unfinished business: literary history -- Changes in epistemology: media revisited (...) -- Histories and discourses: for an integrated communication science -- Aspects of media societies -- Advertising lessons for empirical aesthetics -- The self-organisation of human communication. (shrink)
The relationship of words to the things they represent and to the mind that forms them has long been the subject of linguistic enquiry. Joseph Graham's challenging book takes this debate into the field of literary theory, making a searching enquiry into the nature of literary representation. It reviews the arguments of Plato's Cratylus on how words signify things, and of Chomsky's theory of the innate "natural" status of language (contrasted with Saussure's notion of its essential arbitrariness). In the (...) process, Graham explores the issues of meaning and intentionality in representation, and questions of how the mind represents the world. Graham's use of linguistic theories and models leads him to a new response to Wimsatt's notion of the verbal icon, Stanley Fish's concept of literature as self-consuming artifact, and de Man's idea of its function as an allegory of reading. In showing them in fact to be complementary, he transcends the current controversies among literary theorists, arguing that the solution lies not in epistemology or philosophy, but in psychology and the study of how literature teaches and why humans learn best by example. (shrink)
Taking as its starting point what is sometimes called 'the prison house of language' - the widespread feeling that language falls terribly short when it comes to articulating the rich and disparate contents of the human mental tapestry - this book sets out a radically new view of the interplay between language, literature and mind. Shifting the focus from the literary text itself to literature as a case of human agency, it reconsiders a wide range (...) of interdisciplinary issues including the move from world to mind, the existence or otherwise of a property of literariness or essence of art, the nature of literature as a unique output of human cognition and the possible distinctiveness of the mind that creates it. In constant dialogue with philosophy, linguistics and the cognitive sciences, this book offers an invaluable new treatment of literature and literary language, and sketches novel directions for literary study in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
In a critical scene deeply troubled by questions of justice and responsibility, and beset by political and moral scandals, no issue in recent years has been more urgent or more unsettled than the question of ethics. Geoffrey Galt Harpham, whose previous book, The Ascetic Imperative in Culture and Criticism, was one of the first to announce the critical renewal of ethics, attempts in this new book to explain why ethical questions resist settlement. He urges a new account of ethics not (...) as a stable set of principles, values, or prescriptions, but as a variable factor of "imperativity" immanent in language, analysis, narrative, and creation. (shrink)
Sophisticated Marxists have always been aware of the important contributions to literary criticism of Marx, Engels, Trotsky and Gramsci. Yet, except for Lukács, there has been almost no discussion of Lenin's great interest in literature. This paper glances at some of the contemporary evidence of Lenin's concern with the classic Russian novelists — especially Tolstoy, to whom he devoted four essays (his only works of formal literary criticism). Lenin placed great emphasis from the earliest days of the revolution on (...) building a popular library system and on publishing good fiction cheaply. He also had an informed interest in language and was a life-long opponent of literary censorship. In this connection, his struggle against the sectarianism of the Proletkult movement is recorded. (shrink)
Sometimes translating religious texts brings us up against the problem of scatological language. The author examines this problem in relation to a story of a former life of the Buddha and explores a variety of avenues for guidance on how to render gūtha ‘shit’ into English. This includes looking at Buddhist monastic law, which does not necessarily give us the guidance we might expect, and how the existing translation of this source of guidance illustrates the very problem in hand. (...) The textual history and context of the story precludes some otherwise useful strategies for determining our translation and the best guide to the translator's hand in this instance turns out to be humour. The author makes a case that, employed judiciously, humour could become a useful hermeneutic tool for drawing meaning from religious literature. Along the way the author also reflects on the influence of the social context of the translator, including changes in British obscenity law, and on the possibility that academia is unconsciously constrained by unexamined assumptions of ‘decency’. Buddhist attitudes to language are also touched upon. (shrink)
In recent years, few areas of research have advanced as rapidly as cognitive science, the study of the human mind and brain. A fundamentally interdisciplinary field, cognitive science has both inspired and been advanced by work in the arts and humanities. In _Conversations on Cognitive Cultural Studies: Literature, Language, and Aesthetics,_ Frederick Luis Aldama and Patrick Colm Hogan, two of the most prominent experts on the intersection of mind, brain, and culture, engage each other in a lively dialog (...) that sets out the foundations of a cognitive neuroscientific approach to literature. Despite their shared premises, Aldama and Hogan differ—sometimes sharply—on key issues; their discussion therefore presents the reader not with a single doctrine, but with options for consideration—an appropriate result in this dynamic field. With clarity and learning, Aldama and Hogan consider five central topics at the intersection of literature and cognitive science. They begin with the fundamental question of the nature of the self. From here, they turn to language, communication, and thought before moving on to the central issue of the structure and operation of narrative. The book concludes with thought-provoking explorations of aesthetics and politics. Illustrating their arguments with work that ranges from graphic fiction and popular cinema to William Faulkner and Bertolt Brecht, Aldama and Hogan leave the reader with a clear sense of what cognitive cultural studies have already achieved and the significant promise the discipline holds for the future. (shrink)
Language and History in Theodor W. Adorno's Notes to Literature explores Adorno’s essays on literature as an independent contribution to his aesthetics with an emphasis on his theory and practice of literary interpretation. Essential to Adorno’s essays is his unorthodox treatment of language and history and his elaboration of the links between the two. One of Adorno’s major but often-neglected claims is that truth is relative to its historical medium, language. Adorno persistently and creatively tries (...) to narrow the gulf between truth and expression, philosophy and rhetoric, and his essays on literature are practical examples of his effort to critically rescue the rhetorical dimension of philosophy. Rather than relying exclusively on aesthetic concepts inherited from his predecessors in the Western tradition (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard), Adorno’s essays seek to transgress and transcend the conceptual limitations of aesthetic discourse by appropriating a non-conceptual, metaphorical vocabulary borrowed from the literary texts he investigates. Thus, Adorno’s interpretations of literature mobilize an alternative subterranean, primarily essayistic and fragmentary discourse on language and history that eludes the categories that tend to predominate his thinking in his major work, Aesthetic Theory. This book puts forth the claim that Adorno’s essays on literature are of central relevance for an understanding of his aesthetics because they challenge the conceptual limitations of philosophical discourse. (shrink)
_Language and History in Theodor W. Adorno's _Notes to Literature explores Adorno’s essays on literature as an independent contribution to his aesthetics with an emphasis on his theory and practice of literary interpretation. Essential to Adorno’s essays is his unorthodox treatment of language and history and his elaboration of the links between the two. One of Adorno’s major but often-neglected claims is that truth is relative to its historical medium, language. Adorno persistently and creatively tries to (...) narrow the gulf between truth and expression, philosophy and rhetoric, and his essays on literature are practical examples of his effort to critically rescue the rhetorical dimension of philosophy. Rather than relying exclusively on aesthetic concepts inherited from his predecessors in the Western tradition, Adorno’s essays seek to transgress and transcend the conceptual limitations of aesthetic discourse by appropriating a non-conceptual, metaphorical vocabulary borrowed from the literary texts he investigates. Thus, Adorno’s interpretations of literature mobilize an alternative subterranean, primarily essayistic and fragmentary discourse on language and history that eludes the categories that tend to predominate his thinking in his major work, Aesthetic Theory. This book puts forth the claim that Adorno’s essays on literature are of central relevance for an understanding of his aesthetics because they challenge the conceptual limitations of philosophical discourse. (shrink)
There are several linguistic phenomena that, when examined closely, give evidence that people speak through characters, much like authors of literary works do, in everyday discourse. However, most approaches in linguistics and in the philosophy of language leave little theoretical room for the appearance of characters in discourse. In particular, there is no linguistic criterion found to date, which can mark precisely what stretch of discourse within an utterance belongs to a character, and to which character. And yet, without (...) at least tentatively marking the division of labor between the different characters in an utterance, it is absolutely impossible to arrive at an acceptable interpretation of it. As an alternative, I propose to take character use seriously, as an essential feature of discourse in general, a feature speakers and listeners actively seek out in utterances. I offer a simple typology of actions in discourse that draws on this understanding, and demonstrate its usefulness for the analysis of a conversation transcript. (shrink)
Introduction, by J. L. Hevesi.--Days of reading, by M. Proust.--Poetry and abstract thought, by P. Valèry.--Jacob Cow the pirate; or, Whether words are signs, by J. Paulhan.--Concerning the pebble, by F. Ponge.--The journey and the return, by J. P. Sartre.--The power of words, by B. Parain.
Richard Gaskin offers an original defence of literary humanism, according to which works of imaginative literature have an objective meaning which is fixed at the time of production and not subject to individual readers' responses. He shows that the appreciation of literature is a cognitive activity fully on a par with scientific investigation.
In this paper I address some related aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s unfinished texts, The Visible and the Invisible and The Prose of the World. The point of departure for my reading of these works is the sense of philosophical disillusionment which underlies and motivates them, and which, I argue, leads Merleau-Ponty towards an engagement with art in general and with literature in particular. I suggest that Merleau-Ponty’s emerging conception of ethics—premised on the paradox of a “universal singularity” and concerned with (...) the concrete experience of the individual subject, rather than with abstractions and formal categories—can best be articulated through the formalist concept of “defamiliarization,” the fundamental performativity of all literature, and the dialogic relations which, though inherent in all discourse, become most powerfully evident in the dynamics of reading. (shrink)