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

Reviews207 to its original intent. When de Grazia ascribes to Machiavelli a coherent synthesis of classical and Christian elements, he fails to preserve the tensions within a figure who pursues but never quite achieves the unproblematic identity he once sustained as a citizen ofFlorence. By the same token, when de Grazia reconciles the murderous imperatives of secular politics with the injunctions of Christian ethics, he loses sight of the tragic fate of a man whose very real fear of hell cannot quench his love for the appearances of this world. Whitman CollegeTimothy V. Kaufman-Osborn Fictions, Phifosophies, and the Problems ofPoetics, by Peter J. McCormick; xiii & 351 pp. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988, $42.50 cloth, $15.95 paper. The general argument strategy in Fictions, Philosophies, and tL· Problems of Poetics is to set up opposing views, to elaborate and refine them carefully, and finally to transcend the opposition that had been established. The opposing views concern the topics of what fiction is, whether it presents truth, whether it is morally significant, how it moves us, and how it enacts conceptions of actions and persons. The general opposition that runs across all these topics is between theories offiction that seek to analyze the mechanisms through which it achieves its effects and theories of fiction that attribute to it some deep metaphysical significance. An account of the mechanism of fiction is needed in virtue of the fact that tantalizing metaphysical views about fiction—notably Ingarden's, but behind his Heidegger's and Gadamer's—are ultimately obscure. Here Goodman helpfully insists that fictions are some of the many incommensurable world-versions that all righdy render many actual worlds. Talk about hidden essences and obscure realms of possibilia is unnecessary. Yet Goodman's ideas turn out to be trivializing, in leaving the nature of the real unexplicated and conceptually incoherent. Ricoeurcasts the world presented in a fictionalwork as a refiguration of our own present possibilities of life. But given that mechanisms for the workings of fiction are not satisfactorily specified, we must finally question the intelligibility of Ricoeur's doctrine. The general result of working through these oppositions is that we need a more "satisfactory account" (p. 282) of fiction and its relation to reality, an account that better meets the demands against which the positions of Goodman and Ricoeur, Searle and Heidegger, Hospers and Gadamer, and others have been assessed. The "summary perspective" (p. 290) that attempts to meet these 208Philosophy and Literature demands lists six interrelated essential features of fiction that account for its workings and its significance. (1) The context of the production and reception offiction is undecomposably natural, historical, and cultural. (2) The apparendy monologic production ofthe individual author is always nested in dialogue. (3) Nominalism is false; the world has more in it than individuals—it has also beauty, and order, and cultures, and good and evil, among many other things. (4) Fictional worlds are conceptual frameworks that symbolize and metaphorically refer as wholes—not name by name or sentence by sentence only—to the human historical world. (5) The work and the audience both project horizons: the work is projected toward an audience; the audience is projected toward a possible future. (6) Fictions can refigure our classifications and perceptions of experience. Once we see that fiction is not opposed to or other than reality, then we are forced to rethink how, through taking its projections and refigurings seriously, we are to find our ways about in life without relying on the appeals to individual, quasi-calculative, ethical good reasons that schematize the leading of a serious life in modernity. A number of questions might be raised about this project. How does it align itself against other efforts, notably those of Cavell and Derrida, to reconceive seriousness by rethinking the relations of literature and philosophy? Are the claims put forward in the summary perspective very different from and very much clearer than the claims of Ricoeur and Gadamer? Perhaps most importandy , do we really need a metaphysics of fiction, and, if so, when? Instead of mechanical-metaphysical explanations, perhaps we need elucidations or philosophical criticism—letting die metaphysics take care of itself as we go along. Is the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 207-208
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.