Call for papers: Philosophy and literature; philosophy as literature.
Plato has given to all posterity the model of a new art form, the model of the novel. Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy.
Plato wrote both stories and argument as a way of investigating philosophical problems. For Plato, the choice of literary form was essential to the quest for philosophical truth. Ever since, philosophical reflection has found expression in numerous literary forms, both creative and conventional. And so, we have Platonic and Humean dialogues, Cartesian meditations, Enlightenment fables, Kierkegaardian narratives, Nietzchean parables and aphorisms, Russellian mathematics, Wittgensteinian tractatuses and investigations, as well as all the standard literary forms of novels, novellas, poems, plays, and songs.
Transnational Literature is seeking papers for a special edition of the journal which will be dedicated to the literary expression of philosophy. Rather than readings of philosophy in literature (of mapping particular philosophical frameworks onto works of literature), we invite explorations of philosophy as literature and we invite these explorations also to address the journal’s transnational focus by exploring the crossing of cultural, national and temporal boundaries.
The following ideas are of particular interest:
Philosophy and literature as “embattled adversaries” (Calvino) and the breaking down of boundaries between philosophy and literature.
Philosophical fiction as an alternative mode of philosophical reflection and investigation and/or experimental method. (George Eliot’s novels, for example, as “a set of experiments in life… endeavour[s] to see what our thought and emotion may be capable of.”)
The use of literary devices in philosophical writing to express philosophical facts / metaphysical truths. (Locke’s metaphorical “candle within us” becomes the factual “intuition.”)
The use of literary devices in creative fiction to do the work of philosophy. (Exposition as a way of interrupting narrative to keep reader attentive to the task of enquiry. Point-of-view as ethical device. Ellipsis as getting to the essential story.)
The literary merit of philosophical writing: a secondary concern to the primary quest for truth?
The dialectic of abstraction and embodiment.
The literary form as the accurate expression of moral truths because of the embodied and particular nature of moral philosophy. (Nussbaum.)
The importance of fiction, poetry and song for guiding thought, strengthening observation, developing critical thinking. (Confucius.)
Authors who conceive of the novel as more than story; as a genre that ‘brings together every device and every form of knowledge in order to shed light on existence.’ (Kundera on Broch. Also, Musil, Calvino, Coetzee, George Eliot.)
Philosophy as performance and philosophical plays.
Philosophers who also write literary fiction.
We also invite:
Creative writing that investigates an original philosophical problem.
Book reviews of relevant creative and scholarly works that explore the above themes.
Be between 4000 and 6000 words in length, including footnotes.
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