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Joshua Landy
Stanford University
  1.  22
    How to Do Things with Fictions.Joshua Landy - 2012 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    How to Do Things with Fictions considers how fictional works, ranging from Chaucer to Beckett, subject readers to a series of exercises meant to fortify their mental capacities. While it is often assumed that fictions must be informative or morally improving in order to be of any real benefit to us, certain texts defy this assumption by functioning as training-grounds for the capacities: in engaging with them we stand not to become more knowledgeable or more virtuous but more skilled, whether (...)
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  2. Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust.Joshua Landy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
    Philosophy as Fiction seeks to account for the peculiar power of philosophical literature by taking as its case study the paradigmatic generic hybrid of the twentieth century, Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. At once philosophical--in that it presents claims, and even deploys arguments concerning such traditionally philosophical issues as knowledge, self-deception, selfhood, love, friendship, and art--and literary, in that its situations are imaginary and its stylization inescapably prominent, Proust's novel presents us with a conundrum. How should it be (...)
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  3. A Nation of Madame Bovarys : On the Possibility and Desirability of Moral Improvement Through Fiction.Joshua Landy - 2008 - In Garry Hagberg (ed.), Art and Ethical Criticism. Blackwell. pp. 63--94.
    "A Nation of Madame Bovarys" rebuts the notion that literature improves its readers morally, whether: (1) by imparting instruction, (2) by eliciting empathy for nonparochial groups, or (3) by forcibly fine-tuning our capacity to navigate difficult ethical waters. Taking Geoffrey Chaucer’s ’Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ as its test case, it argues that the positions taken by Nussbaum, Booth, Rorty, et al. -- also including the "imaginative resistance" position -- are vastly overblown; that empathy is unreliable as a guide to moral behavior; (...)
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  4. Conditional Goods and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: How Literature (as a Whole) Could Matter Again.Joshua Landy - 2013 - Substance 42 (2):48-60.
    This essay argues that literature is neither an intrinsic good (like oxygen) nor a constructed good (like a teddy-bear) but instead a conditional good, like a blueprint. It has immense potential value, but that potential can be actualized only if readers do a certain kind of work; and readers are likely to do that work only if, as a culture, we retain an understanding of what novels and poems both need from us and can give us. This means we need (...)
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  5. Philosophy as Self-Fashioning: Alexander Nehamas's Art of Living. [REVIEW]R. Lanier Anderson & Joshua Landy - 2001 - Diacritics 31 (1):25-54.
    Review of Alexander Nehamas, "The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault".
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  6.  72
    Nietzsche, Proust, and Will-to-Ignorance.Joshua Landy - 2002 - Philosophy and Literature 26 (1):1-23.
    “The will to truth,” says Nietzsche, “is merely a form of the will to illusion”; it’s not the opposite of “the will to ignorance, to the uncertain, to the untrue,” but instead “its refinement.” What can this mean? How could a quest for knowledge ever serve a desire to remain in the dark? I answer this question by means of an example in Proust, whose protagonist expends huge quantities of energy apparently trying to find out whether his love partner is (...)
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  7.  87
    Philosophy to the Rescue. [REVIEW]Joshua Landy - 2007 - Philosophy and Literature 31 (2):405-419.
    Review of Mark William Roche, Why Literature Matters in the Twenty-First Century, and Frank B. Farrell, Why Does Literature Matter?
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  8.  40
    ""Philosophical Training Grounds: Socratic Sophistry and Platonic Perfection in" Symposium" and" Gorgias".Joshua Landy - 2007 - Arion 15 (1):63-122.
    Plato’s character Socrates is clearly a sophisticated logician. Why then does he fall, at times, into the most elementary fallacies? It is, I propose, because the end goal for Plato is not the mere acquisition of superior understanding but instead a well-lived life, a life lived in harmony with oneself. For such an end, accurate opinions are necessary but not sufficient: what we crucially need is a method, a procedure for ridding ourselves of those opinions that are false. Now learning (...)
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  9.  18
    Accidental Kinsmen: Proust and Nietzsche. [REVIEW]Joshua Landy - 2003 - Philosophy and Literature 27 (2):450-455.
    Review of Duncan Large, Nietzsche and Proust: A Comparative Study.
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  10.  14
    Lyric Self-Fashioning: Sonnet 35 as Formal Model.Joshua Landy - 2021 - Philosophy and Literature 45 (1):224-248.
    Each of us is not just a set of actions, experiences, and plans but also a set of traits, capacities, and attitudes; we are as much our character as our life. And while story form can help unify a messy life, when it comes to a messy character, we may need something like the form of a poem. Could we model our self-conception, then, on a work like Sonnet 35? In finding deep-going unity—and even bittersweet beauty—beneath surface-level ambivalence, Sonnet 35 (...)
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  11. Proust Among the Psychologists. [REVIEW]Joshua Landy - 2011 - Philosophy and Literature 35 (2):375-387.
    Review of Edward Bizub, Proust et le moi divisé: La Recherche, creuset de la psychologie expérimentale.
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  12.  20
    Passion, Counter-Passion, Catharsis : Beckett and Flaubert on Feeling Nothing.Joshua Landy - 2010 - In Garry Hagberg & Walter Jost (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature. Wiley-Blackwell.
    This chapter presents Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Samuel Beckett’s Trilogy as modern fictions with ancient-skeptical ambitions. Whether in the affective domain (Flaubert) or in the cognitive (Beckett), the aim is to help the reader achieve a position of studied neutrality—ataraxia, époché—thanks not to an a priori decision but to the mutual cancellation of opposing tendencies. Understanding Flaubert and Beckett in this way allows us, first, to enrich our sense of what “catharsis” may involve; second, to see why the apparently (...)
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  13.  38
    Still Life in a Narrative Age: Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation.Joshua Landy - 2011 - Critical Inquiry 37 (3):497-514.
    We are living in an age that is narratively obsessed: both in the academy and in popular culture, temporally articulated phenomena currently exert a vice-like grip over the collective imagination. Under such conditions, how may non-narrative sources of aesthetic power be made available once again to human observers? Charlie Kaufman’s response, in Adaptation, takes the form not of statements but of actions, of “philosophical therapy” for our insatiable narrative hunger. It leaves us, in the end, with two phenomena that have (...)
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  14.  36
    The Devil, the Master-Criminal, and the Re-Enchantment of the World (On The Usual Suspects).Joshua Landy - 2012 - Philosophy and Literature 36 (1):37-57.
    What is so appealing about the figure of the master criminal? The answer lies in the kind of solution he provides to the problem of suffering. Rather than just accounting for affliction—as, for example, does Leibniz’s theodicy—such a figure enchants it, transforming mundane objects into actual or potential clues, everyday incidents into moves in a cosmic conflict, random misery into a purposeful pattern. The master criminal (the shadowy villain of The Usual Suspects, say) thus constitutes a secular replacement for the (...)
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  15.  35
    The Most Overrated Article of All Time?Joshua Landy - 2017 - Philosophy and Literature 41 (2):465-470.
    This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of an essay you have almost certainly read, if you took any class on literary theory in the intervening half-century. The essay in question is “The Death of the Author,” by a brilliant French thinker named Roland Barthes. Barthes had wonderfully illuminating things to say about the structure of narrative, realism, Proust, Racine, photography, and billboards. When he turned his thoughts to authorship, however, his touch temporarily deserted him, and the essay that resulted is (...)
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