Between truth and triviality

British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3):224-237 (2003)
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A viable theory of literary humanism must do justice to the idea that literature offers cognitive rewards to the careful reader. There are, however, powerful arguments to the effect that literature is at best only capable of offering idle visions of a world already well known. In this essay I argue that there is a form of cognitive awareness left unmentioned in the traditional vocabulary of knowledge acquisition, a form of awareness literature is particularly capable of offering. Thus even if it is the case that literature has nothing interesting to give us in the way of knowledge, the literary humanist can consistently maintain that literary experience is thoroughly cognitive.

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John Gibson
University of Louisville

Citations of this work

Fictions that Purport to Tell the Truth.Neri Marsili - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):509-531.
Understanding What It's Like To Be (Dis)Privileged.Nicholas Wiltsher - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102 (2):320-356.
Literature and Knowledge.John Gibson - 2009 - In Richard Thomas Eldridge (ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy and literature. New York: Oxford University Press.
No Hugging, No Learning: The Limitations of Humour.Cochrane Tom - 2017 - British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1):51-66.

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References found in this work

The Artworld.Arthur Danto - 1964 - Journal of Philosophy 61 (19):571-584.
What can we learn from art?T. J. Diffey - 1995 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73 (2):204 – 211.
Learning from art.Gordon Graham - 1995 - British Journal of Aesthetics 35 (1):26-37.

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