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Literature and Knowledge (PH996-20/30)

Programme content

By focusing on the role of literature in human knowledge, this module aims both to deepen our understanding of literary experience and to raise important questions for philosophical conceptions of knowledge. The latter have commonly drawn on models taken from mathematics and empirical science; if we do gain knowledge from literature, it is not obvious that such models can account for how we do it. This module aims to give a critical survey of philosophers’ negative and positive claims concerning literature as a source of knowledge.

Module Director:

Eileen John

Sample reading list (PDF Document)

Topics covered

The following is a list of topics for this module in the 2014/15 academic year; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • Introduction: historical roots, overview of problems and goals
  • Scientific and philosophical method
  • Literature and moral learning
  • Literature and moral philosophy
  • Narrative, life and understanding
  • Truth, irony and self-creation
  • Form, thought and value
  • Metaphor, meaning and truth
  • Poetry, language and experience

  • Philosophers reading poetry
Timing and CATS

This module runs in the spring term and is worth 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.