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EDITORIAL "Not anotherjournal!" The skeptical look on her face sticks in my mind after a decade. She was a scholar much respected in her field, and as she stood diere perusing the inaugural issue ofPhilosophy and Literature, I momentarily wondered if she mightn't be right in dismissing die whole project as a waste of trees. Time would tell, and indeed it has, as Philosophy and Literature celebrates die success of its first ten years. Even the skeptic herself eventually became a valued contributor, and the range and quality of articles we have been privileged to publish since that first bright green and yellow issue has far exceeded our expectations. Our original conviction was of the need for a journal allowing for the exploration of the connections — "interface" was the buzzword in 1976 — between literary and philosophical studies. Journals, as well as buzzwords, have come and gone since, but scholarly work within the domain of Philosophy and Literature flourishes now more man ever, confirming our belief mat criticism, literature, and philosophy offer one another permanent possibilities for enrichment. It would be pleasant on this occasion to restrict ourselves to such exercises in self-congratulation. But while we don't want to spoil the party by sulking in a corner, it might be of greater general interest to attend for a moment or two to some of the ways things go awry when literature meets philosophy, or literary critics meet philosophers. The benefits of the interdisciplinary crossover are in any event widely recognized, and a litde helpful criticism cannot hurt. Here then, some of our misgivings about scholarly work wimin the scope of this journal. It will never be easy for specialists in one discipline to make productive use of anodier: in many cases it requires an internal mastery of methods for which they may have no training and a sensitivity to texts for which they may have no sympathy. In this connection we have been struck repeatedly by the naïveté of some academic philosophers who write about literature. With regularity we see articles in which incidents or characters drawn from works of fiction are utilized to illustrate or support some philosophical theory or other. While the very existence of mis journal has helped to make this sort ofthing respectable, it is clear that in many cases there is no need to resort to literature for the sake of philosophy. 141 142Philosophy and Literature Philosophy is by nature schematic, and can be well served by the readymade examples of Smidi, fooled by a bent stick in water, orJones, who promised to meet a friend. This need not be seen as undesirable: simple , even trivial, examples are often what are required to build and clarify philosophical theory. It is, however, precisely in its abstraction that philosophical analysis now and again seems too far removed from die complexities of lived experience. The insights of literary art can inform and vastly enrich philosophical reflection, as they have (to cite but one notable example) in Martha Nussbaum's lucid and elegant contributions to misjournal. But at die end ofthe day we must allow for a persistent tension between philosophy's schematic proclivities and literature's nuanced delight in die ambiguities of action and experience. Alas, not all academic philosophers have Professor Nussbaum's remarkable abilities to bring the two togedier. Literature, moreover, is sometimes most valuable where its ambiguities mystify and even confound the generalizing pretensions of philosophy. Philosophers who are unwilling to be baffled by such subdeties, or who lack a taste for them, had best stick with the adventures of Smith and Jones. But from the other side — literary historians and critics making use of philosophy — die problems are, ifnot more acute, men certainly more visible . This in particular includes what is now called literary theory, and it can make for some downright depressing reading. To traffic with dieories of any sort, in astrophysics or philology, as well as philosophy, one must address oneself to arguments in the broadest sense — not perhaps to deductively valid chains of reasoning which entail incontestable conclusions , but at least to me reasons which can be adduced for preferring one theoretical position to another. Unfortunately, many of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 141-144
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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