Publication Date

2010-06-25

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

May 2010

First Committee Member

Dr. Susan Haack - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Dr. Eugene Clasby - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Dr. Risto Hilpinen - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Mark Migotti - Outside Committee Member

Fifth Committee Member

Dr. Joanne Waugh - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

This dissertation attempts to answer the question, "How is truth communicated through fiction?" It begins with an analysis of theories of fiction that have been given in analytic philosophy. Then, it frames the question in terms of a response to the "war" between philosophy and poetry, represented by Plato's Socrates, who sees a variety of problems with allowing that poetry can teach ethical behavior, and Sir Philip Sidney, who believes that poetry has a great ability to teach. At the heart of the disagreement between the two is a question about the relationship between truth and the kind of communication that takes place in poetry, which is everywhere assumed rather than stated and argued for. The dissertation then continues to work toward an answer to its main question. First it looks at the theories of several continental philosophers who had things to say that hint at the direction to go in answering the question. The last two chapters are an attempt to give and support an answer to the question; imput is drawn from sources as various as Leonard Nimoy, Dorothy Sayer's "Gaudy Night," Linda Young's "Remember WENN" website, and academic literary theory; and the question is given a direct answer in the last chapter. There are three things that all fiction does that makes it communicate truth in a specific manner: all fiction attempts to engage, purports to describe the normal, and actually makes normative implications. It is because of this that fiction is the dangerous but potentially beneficial thing that Plato and Sidney respectively see it as.

Keywords

Normative Implications; What Fiction Is; The War Between Philosophy And Poetry; Descrbing The Normal; Poetry

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