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120Philosophy and Literature is inconsistent with recognizing its aberrant logic that one attempt to explain it by applying classical logic to aberrant premises. "Four times twelve 'at that rate' takes her to nineteen, which is as far as she would expect to go" (p. 24) is not a perspicuous comment; it, like many others, is simply unintelligible without reference to Heath's source, in this case Gardner's Annotated Alice, to which he acknowledges his debts both for content and format. The latter, however, is the debt of the satyr to Hyperion; both certainly have parallel columns of text and commentary, but Heath's are in almost identical type, and some pages with no notes have two columns of text. The resulting disruption of the reader's progress may vary the tedium, but does not encourage perseverance. In sum, The Philosopher's Alice can be little more than a donnish joke, but even as such it is overdone and overpriced, and in any case it fails because its aim is unattainable: Carroll's humor is largely intuitive—to explain the joke is simply to destroy it. University of GlasgowE. J. Borowski A Common Sky: Philosophy and the Literary Imagination, by A. D. Nuttall; pp. 298. London: Chatto and Windus for Sussex University Press, 1974, £3.95; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974, $12.00 Bertrand Russell once received a letter from an eminent logician, Christine Ladd Franklin, saying that she was a solipsist and was surprised that there were no others. "Coming from a logician," Russell says, "this surprise surprised me." The gradual evolution, however, in the history of modern philosophy from Descartes' methodological doubt about sense experience through Locke's epistemological dualism to the brink of solipsism in Berkeley and on to a full-fledged skepticism about the external world in Hume justifies one in giving the solipsistic position serious consideration. Nuttall's work is a sensitive tracing of the history of such ideas in the philosophical world, together with discussion of the rise of parallel ideas in selected works of fiction and poetry, including those of Sterne, Wordsworth, Sartre, Hopkins, and Eliot. His thesis is that while the philosophers followed reason and assumed that their skeptical arguments went against our natural beliefs and intuitions, the novelists and poets were beginning to give expression to nagging feelings of the unreality of objects and the isolation of the self. Nuttall argues that both paths to solipsism are wrong, that the philosopher has been misled by the seventeenth century model of perception which "erects an artifical barrier between the mind and the world" and the poet is misled by thinking that private images are incommunicable. Nuttall concludes that "the degree of our privacy is of our own choosing. We live beneath a common sky" (p. 291). Shorter Reviews121 The main contribution of Nuttall's book is not in his knowledgeable but ordinary comments on the philosophers nor in his weak attempts to refute solipsism, but in his insights into fictional and poetic works. Here his thesis stimulates him to illuminating analyses. Typical is his interpretation of Wordsworth . He shows that Wordsworth as a boy felt intimations of the unreality of physical objects: "I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence .... Many times when going to school I have grasped at a wall or tree to recall myself from the abyss of idealism . . ." (p. 253). In the light of this temperamental solipsism, Nuttall claims that, rather than springing from Coleridge's sense of imagination as fancy, Wordsworth's poetry is the work of the primary imagination which is essentially cognitive, giving us a picture of the real, public world of objects of perception. "Wordsworth's poetry pleads continually for something resembling an epistemological conversion in the reader" (p. 126). Nuttall notes that we do not normally mention that which is obvious. Thus, literature for many centuries did not focus on the obvious presence of physical objects. In a world which has philosophical or other doubts about the reality of objects, however, it makes sense to focus on objects. Nuttall cites in contemporary literature Forster's characters who discuss the existence of the cow in the field and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 120-121
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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