From Plato’s Symposium to the Bhagavad Ghita, to more recent figures such as Sartre and Camus, some of the most significant philosophical texts of human history have been written in the mode of storytelling. Avoiding the path of didactic truth, authors use basic tools of character and plot to tease out nuanced meditations upon love, truth, politics, enlightenment, and life itself.
How does fiction lend itself to philosophical inquiry? In what ways does philosophy, in turn, broaden the horizons of fiction? When looked at closely enough, where do the boundaries between fiction and philosophy exist–if such boundaries exist at all? And how can writers begin to do philosophy through fiction?
Philosopher, author, and historian Justin Smith-Ruiu is an expert in undertaking experimental fiction as a form of philosophizing. Over the course of three sessions, he will share his perspective on the relationship between philosophy and experiment, and demonstrate the role of creativity in the philosophical project.
The workshop will unfold over three two-hour sessions. These will take place in person at the Library on 3 February, 10 February, and 17 February from 15h00 to 17h00 CET and are open to both Library Members and non-members. Please register here by filling out the form at the bottom of the page.
In the first meeting, participants will be introduced to the subject matter of philosophical fiction, reading and discussing examples of philosophical texts. In the following two meetings, participants will bring their own ideas to the table through exercises and critique. We will explore thinking differently, writing strangely, and the avenues of expression which open up to us when we dare to break the rules.
- What is philosophy? What is fiction? How do the two overlap? Some key moments in history: Lucian of Samosata, True History; Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote; Margaret Cavendish, Blazing-World; Voltaire, Candide.
- Why have some philosophers and some traditions preferred literary engagement with philosophical problems to direct argumentative treatises? Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov; Sartre, Nausea.
- What is “experiment”? How do genre-bending works, between philosophy and literature, help to illuminate the nature of both? Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones; Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities; OuLiPo.
- What are the nature and aims of Justin Smith-Ruiu’s activities in this domain? With special attention to In Search of the Third Bird and other more recent work.
- Week One objective: devising our own projects.
Please note, this event and other workshop events require advance registration and payment. Please register here by filling out the form at the bottom of the page.
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