Chapter

Literature as Philosophy

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198236818.003.0015

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Literature as Philosophy

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Literary works cannot be construed simply as one among other discourses with the primary intention of advancing truths. This argument, along with the argument against the Theory of Novelistic Truth, is based on a conception of truth and truth-telling which is located within a nexus of activities such as making judgements, reasoning, providing evidence, questioning, debating, falsifying, and so forth: within a practice, as we have called it, of enquiry. There is clearly a conceptual link between this notion of truth and that of knowledge. What is known is true, and what is not true does not constitute knowledge but mere opinion. Knowledge is achieved by marshalling evidence supporting whatever truth-claim is being made. These conceptions of knowledge and truth are basic to the concept of science and they guarantee what may be called the cognitive value of the insights achieved in science. This is so not merely in the natural sciences, but also in the social sciences and in history. The doubts that have been raised about the scientific status of these latter disciplines concern just the applicability in these disciplines of these notions of truth and knowledge. And what has been established so far in this discussion is that they cannot simply be presumed to explain the cognitive status of literature. There are two possible ways out of this impasse. One is to redefine the concepts of knowledge and truth-seeking, at least loosening the connection with supportive evidence and argument. The other is a more radical redefinition of the whole notion of cognitive value, severing any necessary connection with the concepts of knowledge and truth. This chapter focuses on the first alternative.

Keywords: truth; knowledge; literature; philosophy

Chapter.  12369 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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