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Bibliographic record number: 667520


Author: Vidmar, Iris
Title: The nature of fictional testimony and its role in reaching, fulfilling and promoting our epistemic aims and values
Type: doctoral thesis
Faculty: Filozofski fakultet
University: Sveučilište u Rijeci
Location: Rijeka
Date: 18.10.
Year: 2013
Page: 286
Mentor: Snježana Prijić Samaržija
Keywords: author; cognitive value of literature; direct humanism; epistemic aims and values; epistemic monism; epistemic pluralism; indirect humanism; knowledge; literary anti-cognitivism; literary cognitivism; literary practice; reader; reliable informer; testimony; understanding
In this dissertation I analyze the problem of cognitive value of literary works and literary practice. My starting point is the symmetry that I claim exists between cognitive values traditionally ascribed to literary works and cognitive states that contemporary epistemology finds valuable and desirable. In that sense, the backbone of dissertation is bringing together of the literary cognitivism (the view according to which literature and literary works are cognitively valuable) and the so called plurality view of epistemic aims and values (according to which truth and knowledge are not the only epistemic aims we aspire to reach). Cognitive value of literature is manifested along two lines. The first one, which I call direct humanism, is based on the idea that literature offers us concrete knowledge about the world and people. This is what grounds the distinctive humanistic aspect of literature: engaging with literature is important in that it gives us knowledge of those things that primarily matter to us as human beings. The second one, the line of indirect humanism, is manifested in the way that literature influences the cognitive economy of the cognizers. Literature helps us deepen the knowledge we already have, makes us aware of the complexities of moral, psychological, political, sexual interactions, it helps us gain understanding of those phenomena that it brings to view, thus enabling us to increase the body of beliefs and knowledge we have at our disposal when we thing about the world and ourselves. In order to defend this claim, I have to show what the underlying mechanism of generating and transferring knowledge is, that is, which epistemically recognized mechanism makes it possible for us to learn from literature. In order to show this, I develop the analogy with testimony: the central claim of the thesis is that literary works are a specific kind of testimony. This is the original scientific contribution of my work: on the one hand, I show how testimony contributes to the plurality view of epistemic aims and values advocated for by the contemporary epistemology. On the other hand, insisting on this analogy creates the need to show how the author of a literary work can satisfy the conditions for sincerity and reliability that the testifier in non-fictional testimony has to satisfy. Answering this question also shows the untenability of anti-cognitivism, primarily advocated for by Plato. Once I show this, I turn my attention to the figure of reader-as-audience which profits cognitively in the process of reading, both, in the sense specified by direct and indirect humanism. Thus, I show the unique way in which literature contributes cognitively to reaching, fulfilling and promoting our epistemic aims and values.
Project / theme: 009-0091328-0943
Original language: ENG
Research fields:
Contrib. to CROSBI by: Iris Vidmar (, 21. Pro. 2013. u 13:02 sati

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