Philosophy and the Novel

Paperback | April 23, 2016

byAlan H. Goldman

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Alan H. Goldman presents an original and lucid account of the relationship between philosophy and the novel. In the first part, on philosophy of novels, he defends theories of literary value and interpretation. Literary value, the value of literary works as such, is a species of aestheticvalue. Goldman argues that works have aesthetic value when they simultaneously engage all our mental capacities: perceptual, cognitive, imaginative, and emotional. This view contrasts with now prevalent narrower formalist views of literary value. According to it, cognitive engagement with novelsincludes appreciation of their broad themes and the theses these imply, often moral and hence philosophical theses, which are therefore part of the novels' literary value. Interpretation explains elements of works so as to allow readers maximum appreciation, so as to maximize the literary value ofthe texts as written. Once more, Goldman's view contrasts with narrower views of literary interpretation, especially those which limit it to uncovering what authors intended. One implication of Goldman's broader view is the possibility of incompatible but equally acceptable interpretations, which he explores through adiscussion of rival interpretations of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Goldman goes on to test the theory of value by explaining the immense appeal of good mystery novels in its terms. The second part of the book, on philosophy in novels, explores themes relating to moral agency--moraldevelopment, motivation, and disintegration--in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, John Irving's The Cider House Rules, and Joseph Conrad's Nostromo. By narrating the course of characters' lives, including their inner lives, over extended periods, these novels allow usto vicariously experience the characters' moral progressions, positive and negative, to learn in a more focused way moral truths, as we do from real life experiences.

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Alan H. Goldman presents an original and lucid account of the relationship between philosophy and the novel. In the first part, on philosophy of novels, he defends theories of literary value and interpretation. Literary value, the value of literary works as such, is a species of aestheticvalue. Goldman argues that works have aesthetic ...

Alan H. Goldman is Kenan Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of seven previous books in ethics, epistemology, practical reason, and aesthetics, including Reasons from Within: Desires and Values (OUP, 2009).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:April 23, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198768729

ISBN - 13:9780198768722

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Table of Contents

Part I: Philosophy of Novels1. Introduction: Philosophical Content and Literary Value2. Interpreting Novels3. The Sun Also Rises: Incompatible Interpretations4. The Appeal of the MysteryPart II: Philosophy in Novels5. Moral Development in Pride and Prejudice6. Huckleberry Finn and Moral Motivation7. What We Learn about Rules from The Cider House Rules8. Nostromoand the Fragility of the Self

Editorial Reviews

"Goldman's style is easy and engaging, and reading this book is a real pleasure." --Ole Martin Skilleas, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews