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Philosophy By Other Means


15 May 2023


Patrick Jones, UNIGE

Prof. Simon Swift, UNIGE


Robert B. Pippin, University of Chicago, US



This half-day workshop, which will take place in the schedule for the CUSO Modern and Contemporary Doctoral Workshop, will address the ground-breaking work of Robert Pippin in thinking through the philosophical significance of modern literature. Pippin has recent field-defining studies of Hegel, but also of Henry James, Marcel Proust and, most recently, J.M. Coetzee. His work offers an accessible account of how literature responds in its own ways to the problems of authenticity, metaphysics, performance, alienation and identity in the contexts of modern life, in ways that answer philosophical questions that philosophy itself cannot get to grips with. His work will appeal to a broad range of PhD students working in theory, aesthetics, performativity and morality.


The workshop will comprise a session of student presentations on the relation to philosophy in their own writing, especially about Coetzee and Henry James, followed by a talk by Pippin himself on the topic of “The Problem of Truth in Novels and Cinema”.


The problem of truth in novels and cinema is whether there is any. Philosophers have been skeptical that there can be for two reasons. The first is that they think that only propositions asserted in judgments can be truth bearers. The second reason is consequent upon the first: literature and movies do not assert anything. They are made up narratives about fictional beings. In this talk I want to introduce the claim that there is a form of truth available in great literature and great cinema and thereby address the question: if literature and cinema can be said to convey something true, what could such a non-assertoric content be, and how could any such truth be distinguished from the mere appearance of truth? The examples to be discussed are drawn from the thirteen films made by Robert Bresson between 1943 and 1983.









Deadline for registration 08.05.2023
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