Enactment and exploration: two roles for philosophy in the novel of ideas

Here’s a theoretical perspective on the novel of ideas, published in the journal Philosophy and Literature.

Abstract: I examine the often-denigrated concept of the novel of ideas from its inception, its critical decline, to its relatively recent revival. Using a variant of the exploitation-exploration dilemma in psychology, it suggests that early usage referred to works that exploit philosophical principles – or better put, enact them – by setting philosophical positions in conflict. By contrast, use of the concept for other, and especially more recent works sees characters and plots as exploring philosophical stances. The shift corresponds with the greater attention paid to complexity and ambiguity that are hallmarks of continental philosophy and neopragmatism, and with it greater need to explore philosophical stances through fiction.”

It’s available from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Published by

Donald Nordberg

Donald Nordberg - writer | academic | non-executive director