In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1 1 6 Philosophy and Literature 1.Jesse Kalin, "Philosophy Needs Literature: John Barth and Moral Nihilism,"Philosophy and Literature 1(1977): 170-82. 2.Kalin states, in summary fashion, that in argument by "exhibition" we are made aware that Jake's concern for Rennie is a "case of relative value which is genuinely reason giving" (p. 176). But he does not defend this claim, so we can only note it and pass on. 3.A. C. Bradley, "Poetry for Poetry's Sake," Oxford Lectures On Poetry (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), p. 24. 4.On the "heresy of the separable substances," see Bradley, p. 12 ff., where he defends the claim that "subject is the opposite ... of the whole poem. Substance is within the poem." Recall also Robert Frost's dictum that the poem is what remains after translation. 5.J. Glenn Gray, On Understanding Violence Philosophically and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 79. 6.Cf. Eliseo Vivas, "Critical Assizes," The Blue Guitar 1 (1975):84. ". . . The critic who is interested in going through literature to moral philosophy, political thought, social theory, or the rest, is a man the seriousness of whose interest in any of these disciplines can be questioned. As a moral philosopher, no novelist or literary critic can tie Kant's shoes or those of Bishop Butler; I know of no novelist or literary critic who as a political thinker can hold a candle to Edmund Burke or Michael Oakeshott, or who as a sociologist can rival Karl Marx or Max Weber. A literary critic who thinks he can go through literature to a well established discipline cultivated by the men I have mentioned or others of lesser stature is a dilettante in the pejorative sense of the term. He can't take his drink at the bar and take it straight; he sits in a booth and sweetens his bourbon with gingerale, or, God forbid, with Coca-Cola." 7.William Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), p. 11. "An idea must be thought before it can be tested, but a principle encased in fiction has, most likely, not been thought at all. It has been used." HOW WIDE THE GULF? a rejoinder by Jesse Kalin Several rather loosely related but important theses can be abstracted from Curtler's remarks. First, that philosophy and literature are so different in character that it is hard to see how they can seriously have anything to do with each other. Second, that the main thesis of my paper—that philosophy at least sometimes needs literature as an essential stage in its program—is false. And third, that my interpretation of Barth's novels is, if not incorrect, only one of several conflicting readings and hence not able to support the claims I base upon it. I shall discuss each of these in turn. Jesse Kalin117 Throughout, Curtler tries to draw the difference between philosophy and literature as sharply as possible. He concludes that not only do they have no need for each other, but to the degree that one "succeeds as a poet he fails as a philosopher" (p. 115). What might appear to be overstatement (and thus most unphilosophical) is supported by a series of contrasts. Philosophy is a matter of proof, not intuition, of argumentation, not persuasion, of concepts, not images, and so on. However, this rigid and rather positivistic picture of philosophy, resting on a supposedly clear and unbridgeable distinction between philosophy and literature made in terms of method and style, is mistaken, and with it the corollary that the two have nothing to contribute to one another.1 If we look at the actual practice of major philosophers, especially modern ones, we will find that their styles are not readily describable in the terms Curtler suggests they should be to count as philosophy. Imagination, intuition, images, makings, even the actual construction of characters and "dramatic action," are in many cases central. Descartes, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Sartre are all cases in point. The essence of this supposed gulf between philosophy and literature is brought out when Curtler says "the way of...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 116-123
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.