The contemporary debate in the philosophy of literature is strongly shaped by the anticognitivist challenge, according to which works of literary fiction (that contain propositions that are neither literally true nor affirmed by the author) cannot impart (relevant) knowledge to the readers or enrich their worldly understanding. Anti-cognitivists appreciate works of literary fiction for their aesthetic values and so risk to reduce them to mere ornaments that are entertaining, but eventually useless. Many philosophers have reacted to this challenge by pointing (...) at ways in which works of literary fiction can be informative even though they lack worldly reference: it has been argued, for example, that works of fictions are thought experiments; that they add not to our theoretical knowledge, but to our know-how or to our phenomenal knowledge; or that that they help readers to understand the perspectives of others. A stubborn defense of literary cognitivism, however, risks to collapse into an instrumental understanding of literature. In my paper I suggest that both sides in the debate focus too narrowly on semantic features of the works in question that is tied to what I will call the “referential picture” of language. A shift perspective is needed: for one, we ought to fully appreciate that the term “literature” does not refer to a homogeneous phenomenon, but rather to a very heterogeneous and multifarious set of works that are read by many different readers for many different reasons in many different ways. Second, we need to understand that these works have in common much more than the semantic peculiarity of lacking worldly reference: they are a unique means of communication between authors and readers – and in particular the role of the latter is often neglected in contemporary debate. These two points should help us to get a more comprehensive understanding of the practice of literature and the vast range of values we can find works of literary fiction – and the interplay between them. (shrink)
Abstract: Brentano’s conception of scientific philosophy had a strong influence on his students and on the intellectual atmosphere of Vienna in the late nineteenth century. The aim of this article is to expose Brentano’s conception and to contrast his views with that of two traditions he is said to have considerably influenced: phenomenology and analytic philosophy. I will shed light on the question of how and to what extent Brentano’s conception of philosophy as a rigorous science has had an impact (...) on these two traditions. The discussion will show that both took their liberties in the interpretation of the thesis, a move that allowed them to liberate themselves from Brentano’s inheritance and to fully develop their own philosophical positions. (shrink)
Literatur ist ein sehr vielschichtiges und lebendiges Phänomen, das beständig im Wandel ist. So wie sie im Laufe der Jahrhunderte und in den verschiedenen Kulturkreisen unter-schiedliche Formen angenommen und anderen Funktionen gedient hat, liegt es in ihrer Natur, immer wieder neue Ausdrucksformen zu entwickeln, die den sich ändernden Be-dürfnissen und Rahmenbedingungen gerecht werden können. Auch die theoretische Aus-einandersetzung mit der Literatur ist Veränderungen unterworfen, die manchmal wellen-förmige Bewegungen anzunehmen scheinen. Neue Fragestellungen geraten in den Mittel-punkt des Interesses, einzelne Aspekte werden (...) besonders beachtet, während andere in Vergessenheit geraten – um eventuell zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt in neuer Form wieder-aufzutauchen. In der Philosophie der Literatur gilt es seit Längerem als weithin anerkannt, dass der Text die entscheidende Größe sei, und dass die Tatsache, dass an der Produktion und Rezeption von literarischen Kunstwerken Menschen beteiligt sind, die mit diesen Werken Ziele verfolgen und Wünsche und Interessen verwirklichen wollen, ignoriert werden kön-ne. Im vorliegenden Beitrag will ich auf die gegenwärtige Diskussion in der Philosophie der Literatur eingehen und für einen Perspektivenwechsel argumentieren: Um dem Phä-nomen Literatur gerecht zu werden, sollten wir versuchen, es ganzheitlich in das Blickfeld zu bekommen. Literatur ist mehr als bloß Text. Sie ist eine soziale Praxis, die einen festen Stellenwert in unserer Gesellschaft hat und stellt ein Medium dar, in dem wir uns mit an-deren austauschen und auf sie abstimmen können. Mein Hauptaugenmerk liegt auf der Debatte um den kognitiven Gehalt der Literatur, weil hier die negativen Auswirkungen der Verkürzung der vorherrschenden Perspektive besonders augenscheinlich sind. (shrink)
In this article I argue that the strong fascination that Wittgenstein has had for artists cannot be explained primarily by the content of his work, and in particular not by his sporadic observation on aesthetics, but rather by stylistic features of his work formal aspects of his writing. Edoardo Paolozzi’s testimony shows that artists often had a feeling of acquaintance or familiarity with the philosopher, which I think is due to stylistic features of his work, such as the colloquial tone (...) in which Wittgenstein shares his observation with the reader, but also the lack of long-winded arguments or explanations. In the concluding part I suggest that we can read Wittgenstein’s artworks of a specific kind: as philosophical works of art. (shrink)
Anti-reductionist philosophers have often argued that mental and linguistic phenomena contain an intrinsically normative element that cannot be captured by the natural sciences which focus on causal rather than rational relations. This line of reasoning raises the questions of how reasons could evolve in a world of causes and how children can be acculturated to participate in rule-governed social practices. In this paper I will sketch a Wittgensteinian answer to these questions. I will first point out that throughout his later (...) philosophy Wittgenstein draws a sharp distinction between "teaching" and "training": newly-born children are trained (conditioned) to react to specific stimuli in specific ways, which then allows them to acquire concepts and follow rules. I will then show that this picture presupposes a strong analogy between concepts and capacities, which is also present in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. In the last section I will point out that Wittgenstein only discusses the ontogenetic question of how individual children can acquire speech, but not the phylogenetic question of how rule-governed behavior could evolve in the first place. I will argue that this strategy should not be seen as a shortcoming, but rather as an expression of Wittgenstein's approach that can be characterized as naturalistic in a wide sense. (shrink)
In this article I focus on the question question of why we actually do read literary texts and what the merits of engaging with literary works are. The central argument is that (among the many other functions literature is abile to perform) literature is cognitively valuable by focusing not on what is said, but on how it is said. Reading literary texts adds to our expressive capacities, enriches our conceptual schemes and can so allow us to get a better grasp (...) of (relevant aspects of) the world. In short, Literature is cognitively valuable not in virtue of the content it expresses, but by means of formal or stylistic elements to which it draws our attention. (shrink)
Through the work of philosophers like Sellars, Davidson and McDowell, the question of how the mind is related to the world has gained new importance in contemporary analytic philosophy. This book demonstrates that Husserl's phenomenological analyses of the structure of consciousness can provide fruitful insights for developing an original approach to these questions.
_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)
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)
Brentano hat das Zeit-Problem in verschiedenen Phasen seiner Philosophie aus verschiedenen Perspektiven zu lösen gesucht, die in vier Phasen eingeteilt werden können: Erstens die frühe Würzburger Phase, in der er die Zeitdifferenzen in der Weise des urteilenden Verhaltens sieht; zweitens die frühe Wiener Phase, in der er besonderes Augenmerk auf die zeitlichen Unterschiede als Unterschiede des Gegenstandes legt, aber diese seine Auffassung des kontinuierlichen Zeitüberganges auch einer 3-fachen Kritik unterzieht, drittens die Charakterisierung der Zeitunterschiede als Unterschiede des Urteilsmodus; viertens die (...) Auffassung der zeitlichen Unterschiede als Unterschiede des Vorstellens. (shrink)
Both Husserl and Haugeland develop an account of constitution to address the question of how our mental episodes can be about physical objects and thus, through the intentional relation, bridge the gap between the mental and the physical. The respective theories of the two philosophers of very different background show not only how mental episodes can have empirical content, but also how this content is shaped by past experiences or a holistic background of other mental episodes. In this article I (...) first outline and then contrast their positions in order to show how the notion of constitution can be adopted to address major problems of contemporary philosophy of mind, especially the question of how the mind can be related to its physical environment. (shrink)
In his entire oeuvre Brentano defended a scientific conception of philosophy and advocated the adoption of a rigorous, scientific method. Given this background it might come as a surprise that in his reflections on aesthetics he firmly rejected the classic definition of aesthetics as the science of beauty. This must not be read as an expression of disinterest in – or a dismissal of – aesthetics, though. It is rather an expression of Brentano's view concerning the position of aesthetics in (...) his overall system. He conceived it – on a par with logic and ethics – not as a theoretical science, but as a practical discipline that was rooted in psychology: aesthetics, Brentano suggests, is not constituted by a set of intrinsically related propositions; it rather serves the practical purpose of instructing those who want to experience the beautiful with correct taste or to create works of art. The task of aesthetics is, in other words, to formulate a set of rules or instructions that teach us how to correctly experience beauty, how to come to prefer the more over the less beautiful, but also how to create beauty and how to produce works of art that have the power to bring about aesthetic pleasure in the beholder. (shrink)
In this article we present and compare two early attempts to establish psychology as an independent scientific discipline that had considerable influence in central Europe: the theories of Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776—1841) and Franz Brentano (1838—1917). While both of them emphasize that psychology ought to be conceived as an empirical science, their conceptions show revealing differences. Herbart starts with metaphysical principles and aims at mathematizing psychology, whereas Brentano rejects all metaphysics and bases his method on a conception of inner perception (...) (as opposed to inner observation) as a secondary consciousness, by means of which one gets to be aware of all of one’s own conscious phenomena. Brentano’s focus on inner perception brings him to deny the claim that there could be unconscious mental phenomena — a view that stands in sharp contrast to Herbart’s emphasis on unconscious, ‘repressed’ presentations as a core element of his mechanics of mind. Herbart, on the other hand, denies any role for psychological experiments, while Brentano encouraged laboratory work, thus paving the road for the more experimental work of his students like Stumpf and Meinong. By briefly tracing the fate of the schools of Herbart and Brentano, respectively, we aim to illustrate their impact on the development of psychological research, mainly in central Europe. (shrink)
Fin dall’antichità esiste una tensione tra filosofia e letteratura, a cui David Hume ha dato voce dicendo che i poeti sono «mentitori per professione»: i testi letterari, in quanto opere di finzione che parlano di persone che non sono mai esistite e di eventi che non sono mai accaduti, non contengono proposizioni vere. Ciò implica, però, che essi sono privi di qualsiasi valore cognitivo. Questo articolo cerca di mostrare che tale atteggiamento anticognitivista si basa su una concezione errata del progresso (...) cognitivo, che lo riduce a un accumulo di dati. Quando apprendiamo da un testo letterario, invece, è perché esso ci offre nuove prospettive, approfondisce la nostra comprensione o ci invita a riflettere e ad arrivare a conclusioni nostre.There is an old tension between philosophy and literature that has been brought to the point by David Hume who stated that poets are «liars by profession». Literary texts, as works of fiction that talk about people who have never lived and events that have never taken place, do not contain true propositions and hence do not have any cognitive value. This article aims to show that the anticognitivistic argument is based on a false conception of cognitive progress, which reduces learning to the acquisition of information. We can learn from literary texts, however, because they offer new perspectives, deepen our understanding and invite us to reflect and arrive at our own conclusions. (shrink)
Franz Brentano’s impact on the philosophy of his time and on 20th-century philosophy is considerable. The “sharp dialectician” and “genial master” influenced philosophers of various allegiances, being acknowledged not only as the “grandfather of phenomenology” but also as an analytic philosopher “in the best sense of this term” . The fourteen new essays gathered together in this volume give an insight in three core issues of Brentano’s philosophy: consciousness , intentionality and ontology and metaphysics . Two further sections of the (...) volume deal with the posterity of his philosophy: in section 4, the legacy of his account of sense perception and feeling is discussed, while the history of Brentano’s unpublished manuscripts is discussed in section 5. This section also presents an edition of a manuscript from 1899 on relations, along with the letters from Brentano to Marty which discuss this manuscript. The last part of section 5 contains the tekst of a public lecture given by Brentano on the laws of inference. (shrink)
Die Philosophie der Wahrnehmung der letzten Jahrzehnte ist stark geprägt von der Begrifflichkeitsdebatte. Dabei ist allerdings eine dialektische Pattstellung zu erkennen: während die Begrifflichkeitsthese für gewöhnlich mit der epistemischen Rolle er Wahrnehmung begründet wird, verweisen Argumente für die Nichtbegrifflichkeitsthese zumeist auf die qualitative Reichhaltigkeit und die erlebnismäßig gegebenen, also phänomenologischen Aspekte der Wahrnehmung. Um diese Pattstellung zu überwinden, skizziere ich in diesem Beitrag Überlegungen für ein Argument für die Begrifflichkeitsthese, das wesentliche auf den phänomenologischen Aspekten der Wahrnehmung beruht.