Setting the Scene

Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen

in Truth, Fiction, and Literature

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198236818
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679377 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Setting the Scene

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This chapter sets the stage for the discussions in the subsequent chapters. It presents a ‘no-truth’ theory of literature. That is, it is argued that, inter alia, that the concept of truth has no central or ineliminable role in critical practice. The point is not, of course, that critics have no concern with true judgements but only that there is no significant place for truth as a critical term applied to works of literature. The rejection of truth as an essential facet of literature is hardly original; indeed versions of ‘no-truth’ theories probably have wider support in the critical community at present than do ‘pro-truth’ theories. So why return again to such well-worn ground? Part of the answer — the positive part — is that a new paradigm is needed, replacing the standard truth/world axis which still dominates the debate, for explaining the values of literature and the nature of fiction. Another, more polemical, reason for taking up again the old debate about literature and truth is because the most prominent arguments currently advanced against ‘literary truth’ are radically misconceived.

Keywords: fiction; real world; no-truth theory of literature; literary truth; metaphysics

Chapter.  9770 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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