It is commonplace to regard many great works of literature—poems, dramas, works of fiction—as in some sense philosophical, yet ever since Plato, there has been a tension between the kind of abstract theorizing that goes on in philosophy and the focus on concrete particulars that occurs in poetry and fiction. Beyond Words: Philosophy, Fiction, and the Unsayable elaborates on and addresses this Platonic tension, asking in what sense, if any, literature in the form of poetry, drama, short stories, and novels can contribute significantly to our philosophical understanding. Timothy Cleveland suggests there is something in certain poems, novels, and stories that makes them especially, perhaps even best, suited to expanding our awareness and understanding into the nature of things otherwise unsayable and unconceived. Such literary works do philosophy, showing us something that a theoretical—scientific or philosophical—discourse cannot literally say.
Timothy Cleveland is professor of philosophy at New Mexico State University.
Introduction: Encountering the Ineffable
Chapter 1: The Platonic Paradigm
Chapter 2: The Experience of the Unsayable
Chapter 3: The In Principle Ineffable and the Trivially Ineffable
Chapter 4: Showing What Can Be Said
Chapter 5: Showing What Cannot Be Said
Conclusion: How Plato Could Have Settled the Ancient Quarrel
About the Author
What can be shown but not said? Where and how can something of surpassing interest or importance be shown but not said? A picture, for example, can be worth a thousand words. These questions arise when we ponder what can be shown and not said. In this book, Timothy Cleveland, a philosopher who can see deeply and broadly, shows himself able to not only see but also say much of great interest about such questions.