Between Literature and Science: Poe, Lem, and Explorations by Peter Swirski

By Peter Swirski

Through shut research of Eureka and The Purloined Letter, Swirski evaluates Poe's epistemological theses within the mild of latest philosophy of technology and provides literary interpretation as a cooperative video game performed through the writer and reader, thereby illuminating how we learn fiction. The research of Poe's little-studied Eureka offers the root for his dialogue of Lem's critique of clinical reductionism and futurological forecasts. Drawing on his personal interviews with Lem in addition to research of his works, Swirski considers the author's eventualities related to pcs in a position to inventive acts and discusses their socio-cultural implications. His research results in daring arguments concerning the nature of literature and its relation to a huge variety of different disciplines.

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For example, it is plausible that it is part of the meaning of a work that it puns on a certain word in virtue of linguistic conventions about word meaning and artistic conventions that puns are artistically significant features of works in the genre in question” (– ). My theses resolve the objections raised to Currie’s theses in the following ways:  The circular concept of the fictional author yields to a determinate reality of the real author’s executive intentions.  Since we are dealing with a real-life person, there is no more need to generate complete belief systems; the relevant background beliefs are now limited to those associated with the author’s executive reflexive intentions.

Yet, as peculiar and incredible as these details are, the sultan accepts them as true. Clearly the criteria that determine for the fairy tale monarch the plausibility of a tale are different from those that we would employ for that purpose. In fact, they are symmetrically reversed: what is fantastic for us, creatures of the real world, is real to inhabitants of fairy tale, and vice versa. fm Page 17 Tuesday, July 11, 2000 11:05 AM The Pragmatic Side of Aesthetics  into fairy tale miracles. The mutual beliefs of the teller of and listener to the story are thus the determinant factors of what would, prima facie, seem an empirical or even ontological question.

As Bach and Harnish put it, “Awareness of the situation invokes the rules; recognition of the rules activates the expectations” ( ). Naturally, in fiction, much as in the rest of our lives, we do not always speak literally. In literary works this problem is often compounded by the attendant symbolism across the entire private/public spectrum. Here again, we can rely on the intentionalist principle (point  above) to understand the type of relation between the author and the reader. The content of a literary work is regulated by the text, as well as by the reader’s reflexive recognition that the work is the product of an intentional strategy adopted by the author for a specific literary game.

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