Workshop – Philosophy of Fiction
Date, Time and Venue
September 5, 2018
Metaphor and the Aesthetics of Insight
The late Arthur Danto claimed that through a special act of identification, “an artwork becomes a metaphor for life, and life is transfigured.” The act of identification that Danto has in mind is character-based, such as when one sees “oneself as Anna Karenina, Isabelle Archer, or Elizabeth Bennett.” My interest here is in a broader act of identification: how might the literary work itself function as the primary vehicle of figurative identification and, ultimately, of that grander achievement Danto mentions: a transfiguration of “life,” which I cast as an expansion of our possibilities for ascribing sense to the world beyond the work of art. This, I argue, offers a novel way to address central problems in the debate on artistic cognitivism. The approach I argue for effectively replaces the narrowly epistemic search for varieties of warranted belief and propositional knowledge with an account of how the formal and aesthetic features of art can yield a distinctive variety of metaphorical understanding.