Why Philosophy Needs Literature

Why do you think that philosophy (in general) needs literature, the humanities, and other arts?

The answer to that question goes to the heart of my recent book Inside Ethics which is—this is one way of putting it—an argument for placing greater importance on the humanities, including literature and the other arts, within moral philosophy in particular. I bring out how we need these disciplines’ non-neutral methods to arrive at the kinds of empirical images of human beings, and also to animals, that we seek in ethics. One of my core claims is that, absent humanistic methods, we can’t bring clearly into view certain egregious wrongs to human beings and to animals.

There is a moral here that extends beyond ethics. I set out to challenge ingrained ideas about how we get the world to view in a manner pertinent to ethics, showing that humanistic and literary contributions are immediately relevant. Along the way, I contest received beliefs about what objectivity and rationality are like. What emerges is a lesson that has application in every part of philosophy—a lesson about needing to widen our understanding of the objective world, and of the types of thinking capable of revealing it. In the book, I bring these ideas to bear, for instance, on a philosophy of mind, arguing that our thinking has to reflect this new framework if we are to do justice to mental phenomena.


Read also:  Inside Ethics: On the Demands of Moral Thought


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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