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Philosophy and Literature

An Introduction

Ole Martin Skilleas

Paperback (Printed to Order)

What does philosophy think about literature? And what does literary theory tell us about philosophy? Find out how philosophy addresses the questions of the nature and value of literature, and how literary analysis shows that philosophy's attempts to persuade its reader seem to conflict with its self-definition as the discourse of pure and untainted reason.

Discover why Plato divided philosophy and literature, banishing literature from his ideal state, and how Aristotle answered Plato's criticisms of literature. And explore how philosophy's drive to define phenomena takes us into different ways of defining literature.

Key Features

  • Introduces you to the intersection between philosophical thought and literary writing, using illuminating examples to compare and contrast them
  • Investigates the nature of interpretation and its sources of authority, how literary forms can act as vehicles for the development of philosophical problems, and how philosophy uses literary means in order to persuade readers
  • Asks whether it is useful - or even warranted - to maintain the distinction between philosophy and literature


1. What is 'Philosophy and Literature'?
2. Philosophy and Literature in Antiquity
3. Defining Literature
4. The Author: RIP?
5. Hermeneutics and Interpretation
6. Philosophy in Literature?
7. Literature in Philosophy?
8. Philosophy/Literature

About the Author

Ole Martin Skilleås is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen. He is the author of Literature and the Value of Interpretation: The Cases of The Tempest and Heart of Darkness.


...Ole Martin Skilleas has written what may be the first introductory book in English that looks not only at what philosophy of literature is, but also and more originally at how both Philosophy and Literature interact ... The examples are clear and engaging ... Skilleas presents a cogent phillosophy that ties the work together ... This book may be a good and interesting choice for courses on the subject itself or as a supplement.
- Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza, American Society and Ethics
A poised and informative introduction to the relations between philosophy and literature engagingly - often originally - argued from a philosophically coherent point of view.
- Martin Warner, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick
A many-sided introduction to a rich and fascinating field.
- British Journal of Aesthetics
[An] excellent and well-written study.
- Choice