How to Do Things with Fictions by Joshua LandyHow to Do Things with Fictions by Joshua Landy

How to Do Things with Fictions

byJoshua Landy

Paperback | June 18, 2014

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Why does Mark's Jesus speak in parables? Why does Plato's Socrates make bad arguments? Why are Beckett's novels so inscrutable? And why don't stage magicians even pretend to summon spirits anymore? In a series of captivating chapters on Mark, Plato, Beckett, Mallarme, and Chaucer, Joshua Landynot only answers these questions but explains why they are worth asking in the first place.Witty and approachable, How to Do Things with Fictions challenges the widespread assumption that literary texts must be informative or morally improving in order to be of any real benefit. It reveals that authors are sometimes best thought of not as entertainers or as educators but as personaltrainers of the brain, putting their willing readers through exercises designed to fortify specific mental capacities, from form-giving to equanimity, from reason to faith.Delivering plenty of surprises along the way - that moral readings of literature can be positively dangerous; that the parables were deliberately designed to be misunderstood; that Plato knowingly sets his main character up for a fall; that metaphor is powerfully connected to religious faith; thatwe can sustain our beliefs even when we suspect them to be illusions - How to Do Things with Fictions convincingly shows that our best allies in the struggle for more rigorous thinking, deeper faith, richer experience, and greater peace of mind may well be the imaginative writings sitting on ourshelves.
Joshua Landy is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where he co-founded and co-directs the Initiative in Philosophy and Literature. He is author of Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust and coeditor, with Michael Saler, of The Re-Enchantment...
Title:How to Do Things with FictionsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:266 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:June 18, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199378207

ISBN - 13:9780199378203


Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsINTRODUCTIONThirteen Ways of Looking at a FictionFormative FictionsThe Temporality of the Reading ExperienceIn Spite of Everything, a Role for MeaningA Polite Aside to HistoriansThe Value of Formative FictionsPART ONE - CLEARING THE GROUND1. Chaucer: Ambiguity and EthicsPrudence or Oneiromancy?A Parody of DidacticismPreaching to the ConvertedThe Asymmetry of 'Imaginative Resistance'Virtue Ethics and GossipQualificationsPositive ViewsPART TWO - ENCHANTMENT AND RE-ENCHANTMENT2. Mark: Metaphor and FaithRhetorical TheoriesFive Variables, Six ReadingsDeliberate OpacityThe Vision of MarkFrom Him Who Has NotTo Him Who HasThe Syrophenician WomanThe Formative CircleMetaphor and FaithTheological RamificationsA Parable about ParablesGetting It Wrong By Getting It RightCoda: The Secular KingdomAppendix: "Le Cygne"3. Mallarme.: Irony and EnchantmentJean-Eugene Robert-HoudinExorcisms and ExperimentsScience and WonderLucid IllusionsStephane MallarmeThe Spell of PoetrySetting the SceneA Replacement FaithHow to Do things with VersesA Corner of OrderThe Magic of RhymeA Training in EnchantmentA Sequence of StatesThe Birth of Modernism from the Spirit of Re-EnchantmentPART THREE - LOGIC AND ANTI-LOGIC4. Plato: Fallacy and LogicA Platonic CoccyxAscent and DissentThe Developmental HypothesisDubious DialecticPericles, Socrates and PlatoThe Gorgias UnravelsThe Uses of OratoryWas Gorgias Refuted?Spiritual Exercises: Seven Points in ConclusionAppendix: Just How Bad is the Pericles Argument?5. Beckett: Antithesis and TranquillityBringing Philosophy to an EndAtaraxiaAntilogoiOne Step ForwardFinding the Self to Lose the SelfAn Irreducible SinglenessRes CogitansSolutions and DissolutionsTwo Failures"I confess, I give in, there is I"Negative AnthropologyThe Beckettian SpiralAn End to Everything?Fail BetterGlimpses of the IdealTwo CaveatsCodaWorks Cited