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Philosophy and Literature

Philosophy and Literature

There is a deep relationship between philosophy and literature. Paper Masters will custom write any project that must look at literature in light of its philosophical nature. Have one of our writers custom write your literature project today.

The philosophy of literature is one branch of aesthetics, often dealing with the question "what is art?" Conversely, many non-philosophers have attempted to tackle philosophical subjects in their writings. Philosophy can be great writing, and poetry or novels can contain profound philosophy.

One of the earliest examples of the crossover between philosophy and literature was the Greek Aristophanes' play The Clouds, which lampooned Socrates. It is perhaps because of this that Plato demanded strict censorship of literature in The Republic. Indeed, because Plato uses Socrates as his central character, it is often difficult to separate the line between Plato's literature and Socrates' philosophy.

Other philosophers have turned to literature in order to extend their thoughts. Noted philosophers are as follows:

Conveying philosophy through poetry is a long-established tradition in Eastern philosophy. Omar Khayyam, Nizami Ganjavi and Matuso Basho are all examples of thinkers who committed their philosophy to poetic form. Novelists have also attempted to include philosophical content in their writing. Kafka's The Metamorphosis is frequently cited as an exploration of alienation, and The Stranger by Albert Camus is an encapsulation of existential philosophy.

Philosophy deals with fundamentals, the fundamentals upon which other forms of the pursuit of knowledge rest. Science, psychology, history, literature, etc., all make enquiry into things such as the laws governing matter and energy, the behavior of organisms, what really and truly happened in the past, or what Shakespeare was really and truly expressing in a Sonnet. Philosophy makes enquiry into what knowledge itself is, into how human beings should construct statements which tell them how they ought to behave, into how we perceive what we perceive and how much credence should be given to what we perceive, into the laws of logic and what constitutes-and what does not constitute-reasonable thought, into what thought is and what its limitations are, and into the question of what constitutes being. These things are the foundations upon which all other forms of enquiry are built. You cannot have good science without knowing something about how we perceive what we perceive and without the correct use of deductive and inductive logic. Likewise, when a psychologist says, "We know x about y's response to stimulus z,"the statement is perfectly meaningless unless we have some idea about what it is to "know" anything.

This student does not fully believe that Socrates' and Montaigne' were right in their denigration of human knowledge, but it is the case that one often runs into situations in which people have opinions and beliefs and confuse those opinions and beliefs with knowledge. It is the most common thing in the world. Hence philosophy should begin with a reductionist program in which that which cannot be reasonably asserted is separated from that which can be. That is how Descartes sought to "do" philosophy and there is much to recommend it. One thing that gives philosophy its great value is that it is of use in clearing the dead wood of bigotry from out minds so that we can, in Abraham Lincoln's words "disenthrall ourselves" from the "dogmas of the quiet past".

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