Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 35

Thread: Literature: a form of Philosophy?

  1. #16
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    6,358
    Philosophy is a genre of literature, if it is written, as almost all is now. The same way poetry is a genre if poetry is written down, or theatre is a genre if the plays are written down. Philosophy is just a genre with a long history, like drama, so it gets studied separately in institutions. This idea seems common throughout many large cultures, Japan, Korea, India, much of the Middle East, Iran, Turkey and China included, though in China and Japan the line between philosophy and other subjects is vaguer, as is the case in other countries. Simply put, philosophy is just a form of articulation with a differing purpose depending on which branch or conception of it you look at.

  2. #17
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    6,358
    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    Maybe we need another thread that distinguishes philosophy from self-help.



    Well, Johnson's personal life certainly suggests that the point of literature was making money--after all, he wrote Rasselas just to raise the funds to visit family. But, at least officially, his stance was that literature is about amusement and instruction.
    The problem with that though is it seems people take a joke as a little proclamation of money as the only idea behind literature.

    Simply put, that is hardly the case, and Johnson himself doubtfully believed so, since profitable publication is a late-Elizabethan concept, and doesn't really take over until the 17th century.

    I think the general idea of why artists create art though now is equally about "ego" as it is about money. Simply put, the tradition seems to suggest the desire to see one's name on the cover of the book is at least some consolation.

    Then again, Foucault did order the burning of his manuscripts, so perhaps he figured he wouldn't be around to collect, so what was the point?

  3. #18
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    1,368
    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Simply put, that is hardly the case, and Johnson himself doubtfully believed so, since profitable publication is a late-Elizabethan concept, and doesn't really take over until the 17th century.
    Yeah, I doubt a sixteenth-century coterie poet like Sir Phillip Sidney was really raking in the dough. Lucrative publication is, as you're saying, something that's only come about in the last four centuries. A little context helps. But, at the same time, I think it's possible to take too wide of a focus. When you say:

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Philosophy is a genre of literature, if it is written, as almost all is now.
    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Simply put, philosophy is just a form of articulation
    It seems like you're taking too wide of a perspective. I don't think the OP was referring to literature in the way that everything that is written down is literature. In that sense, a medical textbook would be literature. Instead, it appears that they were talking about literary art--specifically narrative:

    Quote Originally Posted by OP View Post
    authors of literature write naratives to illustrate their points
    The question seems to be about whether something like Dickens' Bleak House or Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises qualifies as philosophy.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    I think the general idea of why artists create art though now is equally about "ego" as it is about money.
    While ego has a lot to do with why you and I write, I don't know if we can say the same thing about authors. Since so much of how a publisher sells a book is by selling the author, writers have to market themselves as unique, attractive people--or egos. It's difficult to know whether the big ego that we eventually attach to an author really belongs to them, or whether it's an invention to sell books.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  4. #19
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    1,905
    Blog Entries
    39
    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    Well, Johnson's personal life certainly suggests that the point of literature was making money--after all, he wrote Rasselas just to raise the funds to visit family.
    Well, I'm sure that he no doubt did meet with his relatives at his mother's funeral, but that's not how I would have put it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    The question seems to be about whether something like Dickens' Bleak House or Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises qualifies as philosophy.
    I like Hemingway, but I don't confuse him with Aristotle.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
    Feed the Hungry!

  5. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Belo Horizonte- Brasil
    Posts
    3,279
    That because Aristotle didnt had a rifle.

  6. #21
    biting writer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    when it is not pc, philly
    Posts
    2,184
    I think it would be a mistake to say every discipline is tied to creative writing and the vision writers create. Philosophy looks at problems and depends on rational arguments, and it has a language all to itself, logic, which I almost flunked and would still find difficult today. Sure, philosophical thought intersects with literary writing, but that is a far cry from F^= (x x y) > (A-B) < CY

    We do not equate our grammars with mathematics outside of logic as a branch of philosophy, and scientists like Dennett and Chomsky are not running off writing novels to point to innate universals. That existentialists used traditional literary mediums only points to their need to spin the polemic of their idea. Foucault took a different path, culling historic episodes to brace his points on power knowledge and the social manipulation of the body.

    Interdisciplinary engagement is sexy, but disciplines are disciplines because they do certain things, and some of my online philosophy contacts are unhappy that I espouse this view (not that it is mine) but philosophy is about the argument, and not even necessarily winning or losing the argument, but the importance of the argument itself.

    Literature may incorporate the argument to teach us something about ourselves, but it is character dependent, a way of using human experiences for both entertainment and instruction.
    Last edited by Jozanny; 03-31-2010 at 03:54 PM. Reason: word replacement

  7. #22
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The USA... or thereabouts
    Posts
    6,076
    Blog Entries
    78
    Is literature a form of philosophy? Instead of engaging in a debate about certain topics, authors of literature write naratives to illustrate their points. I, personally, believe that a lot of what I read about is, in fact, true about society. Do you believe that this qualifies as Philosophy?

    I don't understand the urge to define one discipline as being an example of another. We already have the thread about whether song lyrics are poetry... whether rap is poetry... etc... Why do we need to imagine that literature is philosophy? Is calculus music? Is biology history?
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
    http://stlukesguild.tumblr.com/

  8. #23
    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    U of Iowa
    Posts
    302
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Is literature a form of philosophy? Instead of engaging in a debate about certain topics, authors of literature write naratives to illustrate their points. I, personally, believe that a lot of what I read about is, in fact, true about society. Do you believe that this qualifies as Philosophy?

    I don't understand the urge to define one discipline as being an example of another. We already have the thread about whether song lyrics are poetry... whether rap is poetry... etc... Why do we need to imagine that literature is philosophy? Is calculus music? Is biology history?
    I agree with this completely. And though I don't wish to place blame, I think Philosophy's stated purpose of 'knowing' sort of makes them the most guilty of cataloguing. Philosophy students are the one's I have met most concerned with categorization and defining what constitutes 'the philosophic'.

  9. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Belo Horizonte- Brasil
    Posts
    3,279
    One of those threads here, alike When Philosophy becames drivel or something.
    I ask, Is skydiving a form of literature?

  10. #25
    biting writer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    when it is not pc, philly
    Posts
    2,184
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I don't understand the urge to define one discipline as being an example of another. We already have the thread about whether song lyrics are poetry... whether rap is poetry... etc... Why do we need to imagine that literature is philosophy? Is calculus music? Is biology history?
    I had no idea you could dance so well!

  11. #26
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The USA... or thereabouts
    Posts
    6,076
    Blog Entries
    78
    Hey... you you see me after a few beers.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
    http://stlukesguild.tumblr.com/

  12. #27
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    1,368
    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    Well, I'm sure that he no doubt did meet with his relatives at his mother's funeral, but that's not how I would have put it.
    Well, I know he did something with the money. Maybe he spent it all on booze and whores when Boswell wasn't looking.

    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I don't understand the urge to define one discipline as being an example of another.
    Literature isn't a discipline, though. It's a collection of texts. That's what makes it difficult to pin down. Clearly, there are some philosophical-literary works: Sarte's Nausea, Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Voltaire's Candide and Zadig, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, Pater's Marius the Epicurean, etc. So there's some overlap. I don't believe there's anything necessarily philosophical about literature (which is what I think the OP was driving at), but, at the same time, I don't buy that they're separate disciplines that can't mix without the academy collapsing.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  13. #28
    biting writer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    when it is not pc, philly
    Posts
    2,184
    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    Literature isn't a discipline, though. It's a collection of texts. That's what makes it difficult to pin down. Clearly, there are some philosophical-literary works: Sarte's Nausea, Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Voltaire's Candide and Zadig, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, Pater's Marius the Epicurean, etc. So there's some overlap. I don't believe there's anything necessarily philosophical about literature (which is what I think the OP was driving at), but, at the same time, I don't buy that they're separate disciplines that can't mix without the academy collapsing.
    I have to respond to this even though it was directed at luke. Literature may be a body of work, and one can as easily refer the student to the literature of and on Hegel as one can to Shakespeare's plays, but creative writing IS a discipline with quite distinct and separate goals from other departments in the college of arts and sciences, and while interdisciplinary engagement is exciting and dynamic, the OP is asking if the art of story telling can be conflated and collapsed into a philosophical treatise or branch.

    No, it cannot. Mills and Marx had very different goals in mind than those of Camus in his writing a novel like The Stranger, or my favorite, The Plague.
    Last edited by Jozanny; 04-01-2010 at 10:38 PM. Reason: subordinating phrase

  14. #29
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    1,368
    I understand where you're coming from. The OP is suggesting something pretty radical--something I don't think anyone on the thread is actually defending. No one is really going to argue that we should subsume Literature under Philosophy. That's just crazy. The reason I posted, though, is because everyone seems to be going to the opposite extreme and saying that there's absolutely no overlap between Literature and Philosophy. This is almost equally absurd. When the OP says that:

    Quote Originally Posted by MiSaNtHrOpE View Post
    Instead of engaging in a debate about certain topics, authors of literature write naratives to illustrate their points
    The answer to this is, of course, no, narratives do not always have to serve philosophical points. But, at the same time, we have to acknowledge that, yes, sometimes narratives can be used to illustrate a philosophical point. Take Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra (a work more frequently used in Philosophy classes than Creative Writing seminars). Here, there's a narrative, characters, and many of the usual trappings of Literature. Yet, the book also advances a philosophical thesis. This is the overlap that I was talking about in my previous post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jozanny View Post
    but creative writing IS a discipline with quite distinct and separate goals from other departments in the college of arts and sciences
    I think you're putting words in MiSaNtHrOpE's mouth. The OP didn't say anything about the craft Creative Writing teaches. It mentioned Literature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jozanny View Post
    the OP is asking if the art of story telling can be conflated and collapsed into a philosophical treatise or branch.
    Again, this isn't what the OP said. The OP asked about "narrative," not the "art of story telling." That latter phrase does sound like something distinctly in the territory of Creative Writing departments. Narrative, though, is something that no discipline has a lock on. Try to tell Journalism and History departments that. Literary scholars study narrative, as well, but they're separate from the Creative Writing department. Just because you're writing a narrative doesn't mean you're automatically in a Creative Writing department. I just gave an example above where a philosopher uses narrative to make his philosophical argument. You might argue that he's doing both Philosophy and Creative Writing--and I probably would agree with you. That just shows that there can be--but need not be--overlap between these things.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  15. #30
    biting writer
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    when it is not pc, philly
    Posts
    2,184
    Well, I pushed the point because the producers of classical literature were writers, though they may have been and done other things, and though no one is contesting *overlap* to use your word, it is a little lazy to conclude that literary works are in and of themselves a philosophy.

    I do not like the undercurrent of hostility toward academics which runs as an undercurrent in this forum, if not this thread. Phenomenology is important to literary theory and criticism, but that does not make Henry James a disciple of Hegel, even though his work is explored in the context of Hegel's theory.

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Literature and Philosophy cannot be separated
    By rex_yuan in forum General Literature
    Replies: 29
    Last Post: 10-06-2014, 05:09 PM
  2. Defining literature?
    By Yeroptok in forum General Literature
    Replies: 84
    Last Post: 11-25-2012, 11:46 AM
  3. On Why Do We Read Literature???????????
    By litlenani in forum General Literature
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 06-24-2009, 05:40 PM
  4. Literature as Philosophy in Motion
    By Sitaram in forum General Literature
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-20-2004, 03:40 AM
  5. Philosophy in Modern and Postmodern literature
    By AbdoRinbo in forum General Literature
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 07-08-2003, 05:29 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •