Truth Telling And Story Telling

Sep 30 2012 @ 3:34pm

Mark Linsenmay critiques understanding literature as a way of doing philosophy, arguing the latter is "not just supposed to be a good show, but getting at truth":

I think philosophy is often brought in as a literary tool, but ultimately what makes it good literature is not the quality of the philosophy in it. The better the book is, in fact, the less likely we are to notice when its uses of philosophy are fatuous. It’s as if we as philosophers are so tickled when someone outside of a the context of an academic philosophy paper name-drops Nietzsche, or even reflects about God or freedom or whatever that we get all glowy inside, as if the work has given us the secret handshake for our geeky philosophers’ club.

If a fiction writer, like Sartre or maybe Camus (and keep in mind that even those guys are often considered lightweights when compared to a dude like Husserl), really has the philosophical goods, then chances are, you’re going to see it spelled out in actual treatises. If you don’t see this, then you’ve most likely got a philosophical debutante, a dabbler, someone who may be a great observer of human nature but can’t actually concoct a coherent theory or two to express these insights.