Grèce - 'Some-thing inside it'': Philosophy everywhere (?). Philosophical findings in literature paths.

Professor Elena K. Theodoropoulou , University of the Aegean, Rita Pedro (Université Nova de Lisbonne).


We attempt to bring to surface reflections regarding the recognition, emergence, corroboration and development of philosophical findings, during the approach of literary texts in the class, as a characteristic example of how one can seek out, grasp (and work on) these elements by keeping the vividness, concreteness and distinctiveness of the material in/on which each time philosophical element appears or seems to appear. This insertion/mediation of the material in the capturing and understanding of the philosophical element becomes a complex exercise which permits us to rebuilt or to flesh out our conception about the material itself, philosophy and mainly their difficult interweaving.

The emphasis on questions regarding the affinity or the distinction between literature and philosophy, the understanding of their relation as well as of their particularities constitute a sine qua non parameter for the development of discussions within the class (since the latter are an inseparable part of the very process of teaching literature), which purport to start from the literary text. Even more so, in as much as they tend to feed on informal or irregular philosophizations of the topic and the material of the discussions, as well as of the interpretations that the discussions themselves motivate and produce. The issue concerning the more precise understanding of the stakes in the above context is also raised during the approach of the literary texts, seen as educational material for the promotion of goals outside the texts themselves and their philosophical imprint.


The investigation of lines of intersection, interpenetration and mutual containment between the literary and philosophical locus (or between the literary and philosophical locations/landscapes), is related to the question about the insertion/mediation of the material (which a frequent choice in education) in the capturing and understanding of the philosophical element (and vice versa). This is about a complex exercise which in fact permits us to rebuilt or to flesh out our conception about the "material" itself (whether is about a theatrical piece, a movie, a painting, a dancing body, an object or a literary text), philosophy and mainly their difficult interweaving. Thinking about philosophical findings in literary texts during the didactic procedure (whether the texts are approached as an intermediary educational material, as a bridge for attaining other goals, or constitute themselves the goal of the analysis/elaboration) is a characteristic example of how one can seek out, grasp (and work on) these findings by keeping the vividness, concreteness and distinctiveness of the material in/on which each time philosophical element appears or seems to appear.

Such an inquiry is even more interesting if/when the educational process presents the hegemonic tendency of presaging the procurement of findings whilst anticipating the desired outcomes, so as to complete the horizon of answers, that is if/when it connects the detection with the (re)finding of the similar or the recognizable. Thus, precisely, the stake of clarifications regarding the immanence of philosophical elements in literature or regarding a premature and incomplete formulation of their pedagogical value (in the sense that literature is deemed to be a select bearer of philosophically significant ideas) is weakened. In that case, the following are possible: the para-philosophical/para-literary readings may start from the stereotypical (though incompletely realized, vague and informal) acceptance of affinity between literature and philosophy. This acceptance, in fact, instead of leading to a systematically repeated (every time in every text) inquiry regarding the clarification of this specific relation, an inquiry based as much on the recognition as on the possible conjunction of these two areas (since one deepens the other), relies largely upon the unorderly retrieving, from the literary text, of concepts, ideas and topics with (more or less obvious) philosophical or pseudo-(as due to their frequently faulty recognition)-philosophical character. Moreover, this retrieval usually occurs as a result of the fact that the related findings can be connected directly or indirectly to the understanding of human life/the human being and its ability of self-knowledge through the formulation of fundamental questions. Thus, the didactic management of this retrieval seems to invest hastily in the epistemological position of a literary gnosticism, the consequences of which, however, it has not accordingly decided to clarify1. The emphasis on the didactic dimension ultimately works as a superior filter for understanding the aforementioned issues, to the extent that it interpolates specific parameters. These parameters are related par excellence to the reading, the reception and the exploitation of the literary text, while this very didactic dimension extends itself as a petitio principii with respect to the immanence of philosophical elements in the literary text: in the basis, that is, of this self-evident as a theoretical principle, on which the right to inquiry is grounded2.

In any case, understanding the ''philosophicity'' (or thoughtfulness) of literature or the recognition of the philosophical element in literary texts3 cannot but include the effort to equally understand ''philosophicity'' and '' literariness"4 as such, since these terms do not fall short of the two questions: "what is philosophy?"/ "what is literature?" 5. Even more if it is assumed that these very terms do not lay upon the texts as inert ''patches'', that they are not deemed as epiphenomena to be turned into inert matter, whilst indiscriminately serving didactic purposes, but that they compose the texts themselves and vice-versa, that they are eternally composed by them, for as long as those texts happen to be read and interpreted, that is6. Particularly when the text is approached for the sake of its own study, the discussions in the frame of a narrower or wider literary analysis7 can be confused with para-philosophical or quasi philosophical discussions (or even with specialized discussions with a philosophical targeting), in the form of free analysis of concepts, ideas and issues encrypted in the literary text or produced from it. These discussional forms quickly circumvent, in this manner, as much the rationale and the methods pertinent to philosophical analysis, as also the possible restrictions of literary construction in relation to the tools of its analysis.

On the contrary, the ultimate goal of a meticulous account of the details which describe the relation of the literary to the philosophical would be the multiplication of the points upon which the educator may focus his/her attention, thus intensifying the experience of processing the texts in the classroom through the activation of different ways of approaching the texts. These ways refer to distinct though often interpenetrating and overlapping theoretical starting points and practical finishing lines.

If, however, different philosophical elements can always be traced in any sort of educational material, the interest is shifted to the revelation of whether and in what way each material creates/presents, through its particular layout, philosophical disposition, philosophical structures and schemes, philosophical concepts and issues, philosophical reasoning. In other words, how each material contains or/and produces philosophy and how it is produced by it, if and how philosophy takes place, within the particular material, while the latter contains philosophy and releases it - with the intensity of a material which resists, while receding, and of an energy which flexes, while becoming intensified8.


"Contrary to all the rules of composition, the walls of the building are displayed one after the other as they are erected, surrounded by the remains of scaffolding, piles of sand and rocks, odds and ends of wooden supports and dirty trowels. Without making this into a thesis, I am assuming this presentation as my own, dictated at first by 'external' factors. It should be merely a commonplace, recognized by everyone, that in the case of a work of reflection, removing the scaffolding and cleaning up the area around the building not only is of no benefit to the reader, but deprives him of something essential. Unlike the work of art, there is no finished edifice here, nor an edifice to be finished; just as much as, and even more than the results, what is important is the work of reflection and it is perhaps mostly this that an author can make us see, if he can make us see anything at all. Presenting the result as a systematic and polished totality, which in truth it never is; or even presenting the construction process -- as is often the case, pedagogically but erroneously, in so many philosophical works -- in the form of a well-ordered and wholly mastered logical process, can only serve to reinforce in the reader the disastrous illusion towards which he, like all of us, is already naturally inclined, that the edifice was constructed for him and that he has only, if he so desires, to move in and live there. Thinking is not building cathedrals or composing symphonies9. If the symphony exists, it is the reader who must create it in his own ears"10.

It is possible that, in the text/material under scrutiny, we see such a plot-web-canvass emerge, and that, perhaps simultaneously, this canvass is still being shaped, while becoming un-veiled; even more, an exploration (in the classroom) may be seen to lean on this canvass, as a scaffolding-in-progress, an exploration which will tend to develop a certain familiarization with philosophical ways and philosophical modalities11. In other words, it is possible to find the way in which each different material, which is being exploited during the didactic process, would lend itself for opening up new areas of encounter with philosophical thought (or for the reduction of a special regionality -literary, cinematographic, visual etc.- to philosophical ideas). It is possible for each material to allow, from its very nature and its means, its special ways of construction and shaping, the creation of philosophical nuclei/receptors/notches. The revelation or discovery of a philosophical web will be subsequently in a position to support the possible development of analytical paths within and outside the text, precisely because it creates a reflective/trans-reflective environment12. If the literary text resists philosophy, to the extent that it does not need the latter, in order to reflect on its own ideas, to form its own ideas, to become literature (Deleuze had insisted on this discretion of each field with respect to philosophy)13, the interest lies, primarily, in the recognition of those elements upon which it makes sense for philosophy to ponder. The investment in immanent, naturally common places or in an indefinite right of philosophy to transcend the literary text, on the grounds that it can think about it on certain terms, imposed by itself, is opaque and it easily circumvents certain complications, related to the very nature of literature and philosophy, as well as to their innate characteristics14. At any rate, we are not here dealing with the possibility of philosophy to be articulated as philosophy of literature or to reflect on literature, but for the process of recognition of the philosophical element within texts appearing as literary texts15.

In this sense, this effort could adopt the character of a so-called organic reading16, if we wished to underline, in this way, the tendency to retain, to support the particular texture of the text, in virtue of which the latter can be recognized as such (while containing its different layers and aspects, which compose it)17. Organic because it co-creates the text, it accompanies it while not removing its scaffolds, but bringing them to surface18. The discourse regarding the goodwill of literature or the literary text as a bearer of values and meanings, is of no interest here.

The philosophical approach may be seen, in its entirety, as a multi-logical philosophical exercise (or as an opportunity of formulating many different philosophical exercises). On the other hand, the sui generis relation between literature and philosophy (with respect to their parts and to the whole) may be illustrated (and explored), with a view to becoming doubly19 sensible and aware of the literary and philosophical paths as they unfold, refold and intertwine, within and without the material under scrutiny20.


Accordingly, one could suggest ways of developing the philosophical stance in the reading/analysis of the text, in the following manner:

1. With the application of external, originally neutral elements, in a mostly implementary movement of registration (elements such as critical and reflective thinking, search for meaning, philosophical questions, issues, ideas, motifs, reference to theories-schools, ethical dilemmas, juxtapositions of values etc.) so that we can recognize if, to what extent and in what way the text, as such, contains "philosophical notches" (philosophical predisposition or philosophical horizon). That is, if the text, as literary, is, more or less, traversed and supported by philosophical veins and similar structural elements (or if it contains restrictions in connection to potential philosophical developments - such as tacit tendencies of didacticism and dogmatism, imperfect use of syllogisms, blurred concepts, incorporation of stereotypes etc). The introduction of criteria constitutes in principle an external and quasi- "allogenic" implementation, since, on the one hand, it is based on the text's data, on the other hand it provokes them, it questions them with a view to clarifying them, with respect to aspects which the philosophical outlook (and possibly, only it) can bring to surface21. Here, while on the one hand the philosophical outlook does not consider literature as an external object to be analyzed or evaluated, on the other hand, even if it introduces a criteriology in the text (to wit, a kind of systematization of philosophical viewpoint/reading), it continues to follow the movements of the text and to accompany them between the lines of the criteria (in the manner of a meta-criteriology).

2. With the appearance of the emerging philosophical horizon and, potentially, the drafting of a pertinent conceptual map: following the use and the emergence of concepts in the text and rehabilitation of the relations-connections among the obvious, half-obvious and concealed concepts, relations which eventually construe micro-theories or informal theories, syllogisms, arguments, meanings. The ramifications of the map and the micro-maps inside the basic one are produced by the very elements of the text, as they are reconstructed on the basis of their inter-articulations and extensions. The drafting of the conceptual map facilitates the emergence and formulation of philosophical questions22.

Within the frame of the first and second way, the basic tendency is that of remaining within the text while bringing out its existing elements and the extent to which these, as they appear, can be reduced to philosophical categories.

3. With the formation of a conceptual map regarding concepts to which the concepts in the text themselves refer (whether gradually or by leaps and with the text remaining the mould/source)23. The following movement thus unfolds and gradually leads to the boundaries of the text (or even further than the text itself) 24 : every concept of the text presents a certain force of impulse, a thrust, or functions as a pebble thrown into the water, creating waves and concentrical, successive circles around it, until the impulse or the waves fade away (these circles usually emerge through the processing/discussion in the class). From the first moment of appearance of the concept in the text, till the moment of its decline, we are gradually lead to an understanding of the superior and ultimate boundaries of the text25. Nonetheless, probably, as the analysis moves forward, it is possible for the development of the concept to serve more the understanding of its own breadth and depth and less the understanding of itself as a part of the particular text. However, the greater the philosophical depth or the philosophical quality of the concepts, as included in the text, the more it becomes evident that philosophical analysis is located within the thrust of the text.

There is, however, a fine boundary (the position of which varies) beyond which it becomes apparent that this development starts moving beyond the text (a determination, however, which, at the same time, cannot but be directly related to the theory and practice of literary analysis). Philosophical incisions, nevertheless, tend to be heretic, as they open (leave the text open) to new meanings or make internal incisions, with a purpose of recognizing the conceptual weaving in detail. In this particular frame, every motion towards approaching the text or departing from it belongs to an attempt at recognizing its world and familiarizing oneself with or alienating oneself from it. Within such a series of motions, the difficulty always lurks for the boundaries to become indiscernible and then, the analyst may be asked to manage the difficulty by organizing trial-routes.

The intensity of the effort is thus traced in an intermediate space: neither incarceration within the text (confinement to the exegetic framework) nor loss/oblivion of the text through the centrifugal, often reflexive meanders of philosophical work, but a constant come-and-go of pedagogical and didactic interest, as long as the center of gravity is relocated in accordance with the children's steps, as they reflect upon the text26 : the depth of the literary, to its crests and beyond them, and, from in there, philosophical deepenings and wanderings, to eventually autonomous philosophical activities, outside the text (in the context of a functional distinction between the philosophical and the literary way)27.

This third way gradually leads to a possible autonomy of philosophical workings from the necessities and the restrictions of literary text, although such workings reenergize the focal points of the initial text by increasing its intensity. Paradoxically, while the philosophical approach tends, in general, to function in a distancing way as a "meaning-giver," to resist the text and surpass it (or ignore/dissect/decompose it) so as to deliver itself to the research and control of concepts, arguments and syllogisms, the whole process ends by presenting the literary mark in the most vivid colors.

Texts, bodies, movements, speech, discussions, glance, their orchestrations, their clusters, their maps, their edges, their rhythm, their breaths, their silences constitute that wide field which grows in class environments and is capable of emitting philosophical whispers and traces, voices or fragments. The emergence of such elements may be weak or strong (obvious) or potential (so, in principle, invisible), traceable, capable of allowing for the composition of a hypothesis regarding its nature: emergent-philosophy, since it is not recognizable as originally organized through more or less processed forms (as, for instance, in a philosophical dialogue28, or a philosophical text or a consciously formulated philosophical question), but is conceived aborning, at the place of an "quasi". The degree and the way of dealing with this emergence, long or right before the processing of the material, during or/and after this processing (right after or eventually after it) with a view to expanding/shaping a philosophical spacetime (paradoxically compatible with specific targets within the class) constitutes an issue of educational and didactic choice.

The philosophical viewpoint infiltrates the literary text, it establishes itself and relocates itself, it shrinks and expands, it penetrates and permeates, it is contained and it visits: it is a gesture of thought29 (rather than a gesture for the thought) of the text, which ought to be undertaken, so as to exist30 and not just to be recognized as "an issue", while being, possibly subtracted from the text, so as to continue to exist without it.

"(...) the educative material is not an exhibit or a springboard and the philosophical concept is not a lens, which functions momentarily, or an interpretative embroidery, and does not correspond to the indifferent motion of the spectator, who turns her/his back to the exhibits to continue wandering elsewhere (nor does it correspond to the melancholy of this inhospitable movement)"31

The movement of the quasi philosophical (when the text did not construct, incorporate, mention, indicates it as such from the beginning - although even then is its emergence possible), as a movement of perpetual externalization triples: immanent (as emergent philosophicity of the literary), detective-interpretative (as visiting philosophicity), formative-implementary (as intervening philosophicity).

And while the educational action is readily recognized in a tendency towards closure32, the bond between philosophy and literature is a non finito33 which, paradoxically (since it comes, nonetheless, to visiting the texts and staying there) recognizes more the singularity of the texts, their maximal "foreignness". Thus, "the distance which separates us from them emerges", it becomes possible to introduce our "language", our discourse "in that same distance, in this difference in which we can place ourselves and where we stand in relation to them". Conversely, in this way, our discourse does not aim at revealing the "unthought" element within it, that which "lays present, in a way, - but without having been uttered, in the gaps, the chasms, the internal contradictions", or "the secret which lays beyond them and is concealed by their manifest presence", but "rather, that atmosphere, that transparency that separates us from them and which, at the same time, connects us to them and contributes so that we can speak thereof, but as objects which do not constitute entirely our reflections, our representations, our knowing". A discourse neither of interpretation, nor of writing, but of distance34.

"In other words, [...] philosophy in its constant movement in space and time, we browse through shapes and ways in which philosophy, or what we believe to be philosophy, appears or it is used to appear. From the heretic to its established recognitions and vice versa, exercises for the strange and the familiar, peregrinations to its forms, amorphisms and deformations, philosophy otherwise. Through its ability/strength/inclination to persistently think, always and everywhere, the philosophy's ubiquitas can falsely be viewed as the lack of a form of its own or an amorphism. Thus it finally takes the form of the one who professes it. However, the lingering question: what, how, where, when philosophy is, transfers it in a difficult yet phantasmagoric way through forms which it denies and by which it is denied, exactly for the reason of its being (their) philosophy"35.

(1) For the appearances of literary Gnosticism, see Vidmar I. (2015): "Literature and Philosophy: Intersection and Boundaries." Arts, 4, pp. 1-22.

(2) This has to do with a general jamming of certainties, a compilation and an incessant movement of meanings, even when the problematic concerning the resistance of language is extended by pushing the limits and the forms of literature, by explaining, in addition, the production of reflective literature. Cf. the beckettian conception about art, an art impoverished, which abhors verisimilitude, exasperated by futile accomplishments, exasperated by pretending to be capable, to be able to always do the same thing, a little bit better each time; in fact, "there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express" (Beckett S., Three Dialogues. Samuel Beckett and Georges Duthuit, In Transition, No. 5, pp. 97-103, 1949).

(3) ''The work of a great writer is always permeated by two or three philosophical ideas [...] The function of the writer does not consist in laying down those ideas, but in making them exist in front of us in the way of objects. It is not Stendhal's role to discuss subjectivity, it is enough that he renders it visible'' (Merleau-Ponty, M. (1966/1996). Sens et non-sens. Paris. Gallimard, p. 34). Cavell considers the study of literature as philosophically significant and includes it in the philosophy of ordinary, common language, as long as the latter looks into how philosophy emerges and how philosophers think about ordinary problems (Cavell, St. (2002): Must We Mean What We Say? : A Book of Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

(4) "Surely one could not speak of "literariness" as a belonging to literature, as of the inclusion of a phenomenon or object, even a work, within a field, a domain, a region whose frontiers would he pure and whose titles indivisible. The work, the opus, does not belong to the field, it is the transformer of the field" (Derrida J. (1984). "Devant la loi" In A. Ph. Griffiths (ed.): Philosophy and Literature. N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, pp. 173-188/187). "Moreover, there is no text which is literary in itself literarity is not a natural essence, an intrinsic property of the text. It is the correlative of an intentional relation to the text, an intentional relation which integrates in itself, as a component or an intentional layer, the more or less implicit consciousness of rules which are conventional or institutional-social, in any case". Nevertheless, literarity is not just subjective - on the contrary, the literary character of the text is inscribed on the intentional object, to its noematic structure: "This noematic structure is included (as "non real," in Husserl's terms) in subjectivity, but a subjectivity which is non-empirical and linked to an intersubjective and transcendental community". Consequently, "There are "in" the text features which call for the literary reading and recall the convention, institution, or history of literature [...]There is therefore a literary functioning and a literary intentionality, an experience rather than an essence of literature (natural or ahistorical). The essence of literature, if we hold to this word essence, is produced as a set of objective rules in an original history of the "acts" of inscription and reading [...] "In any case, a text cannot by itself avoid lending itself to a "transcendent" reading. A literature which forbade that transcendence would annul itself. This moment of "transcendence" is irrepressible, but it can he complicated or folded; and it is in this play of foldings that is inscribed the difference between literatures, between the literary and the non-literary, between the different textual types or moments of non-literary texts" (Derrida, J. (1992). "This strange institution called literature". On interview with Jacques Derrida : Acts of Literature, Routledge, Chapman and Hall, ss. 33-75).

(5) Foucault points out that it does not come to a question of criticism or to a question of the historian or the sociologist who wonders about a specific linguistic fact: it comes to "more or less to a cavity which opens to literature, a cavity in which it would have to shelter itself and concentrate its entire being" (Foucault M., "Littérature et langage. Première séance", à Bruxelles le 1964, pp. 75-104, in: La grande étrangère. A propos de littérature (éd. Ph. Artières, J.-Fr. Bert, M. Potte-Bonneville, J. Revel), Paris, éditions EHESS, 2013, p. 75).

(6) Rorty does not wonder about the essence of literature but neither does he subscribe to the notion of philosophical interspersing of literature or the attempt at discovering philosophical layers or sources or scopes in the frame of his wider conception of the social role of philosophy literature as forms of speech (Rorty, Consequences of Pragmatism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982).

(7) We are not here addressing the issue concerning the criteria according to which a text can be considered as literary, an issue the exploration of which constitutes a basic parameter, so as to address, in addition, the issue concerning the ways in which (in each specific text) literature relates to philosophy. In the contrary case, that is, if the issue is not addressed, the text becomes ''inert'', neutralized as far as concerning the inquiry for the existence of philosophical elements. Accordingly, the recognition of philosophical findings remains indifferent, since, analogically, it will be based upon merely external characteristics of the philosophical style, upon their ''routines'' (as far as this can be so expressed), without any further interconnection with the underlying text, to the extent that the latter shapes those elements. Hence, once we accept the alert-hesitation to the effect that literary works cannot constitute ''disguised philosophical systems'' (Ingarden, R. (1968/1973): The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art. Evanston: Northwestern University Press), as Ingarden points out, the commonplace formulation: philosophy through literature (see infra, note 14), concerning how literature bears philosophical elements, seems vague to begin with, because it includes entirely (without always posing) the question about how the relation between philosophy and the literary text can be grasped (whilst also including the question about how, within the frame of this specific formulation, philosophy and literature are perceived). This perception engages the way in which the philosophical elements will be sought but also foreshadows the character and the volume of the philosophical findings.

(8) We are not here addressing the issue concerning the criteria according to which a text can be considered as literary, an issue the exploration of which constitutes a basic parameter, so as to address, in addition, the issue concerning the ways in which (in each specific text) literature relates to philosophy. In the contrary case, that is, if the issue is not addressed, the text becomes ''inert'', neutralized as far as concerning the inquiry for the existence of philosophical elements. Accordingly, the recognition of philosophical findings remains indifferent, since, analogically, it will be based upon merely external characteristics of the philosophical style, upon their ''routines'' (as far as this can be so expressed), without any further interconnection with the underlying text, to the extent that the latter shapes those elements. Hence, once we accept the alert-hesitation to the effect that literary works cannot constitute ''disguised philosophical systems'' (Ingarden, R. (1968/1973): The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art. Evanston: Northwestern University Press), as Ingarden points out, the commonplace formulation: philosophy through literature (see infra, note 14), concerning how literature bears philosophical elements, seems vague to begin with, because it includes entirely (without always posing) the question about how the relation between philosophy and the literary text can be grasped (whilst also including the question about how, within the frame of this specific formulation, philosophy and literature are perceived). This perception engages the way in which the philosophical elements will be sought but also foreshadows the character and the volume of the philosophical findings.

(9) Cf. the definition of philosophy as the art of ''as'', as long as ''as'' refers to ''distinctions within the concept'' which are not perceptible in the things themselves'', and which yield, that is, the conceptual aspect of the thing (Deleuze, G. "Lesson of March 17th, 1981",

(10) Castoriades C. (1975/1985): The imaginary institution of society. Engl. transl. K. Blamey, The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cf. the deleuzian discrimination between the concepts of ''major'' and ''minor'' (Deleuze, G. Guattari, F. (1980): Mille plateaux. Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2. Paris: Minuit and Deleuze, G. (1997) : "Literature and Life" In Critical Inquiry 23, pp. 225-230). The major language is the dominant one, while the minor literature is interested in the alterations, the idioms, an interest which does not, however, preclude it from the engagements of the major language: on the contrary, each major language falls in the condition of the minor one as due to the frequent modifications at work, which move it from the inside. Thus, the scaffolds must remain there, so as to show the futility of the polished entity, in which the pedagogical actions and evaluations are trapped, if the analysis of the texts during the didactic process tends to move within the rationale of the recognition or the (re)production of a major language/literature.

(11) Thus, for example, it is useful, in the process of recognition of philosophical elements, to pose the question: ''What constitutes a philosophical situation?'' (Torill S. (2014). Philosophy of Education in the Present. In E. Theodoropoulou: Philosophy of Education. Aspects of Action. Athens: Pedio, pp 99-119 [in Greek]) or "On what conditions does the philosopher find, in the situation, the signs for a new problem, for a new thought? '', since the genuine philosopher "intervenes when in the situation - whether historical, political, artistic, amorous, scientific ... - there are things that appear to him as signs, signs that it is necessary to invent a new problem'' (in Badiou, A. (2009). Thinking the Event. In A. Badiou, & S. Zizek: Philosophy in the Present. Cambridge Polity Press, 1-48/14). On the basis of this question, Badiou analyses a platonic dialogue, a real incident - the death of the philosopher Archimides (''a coincidental philosophical situation,'' ibid p. 17) and a film, ''The Crucified Lovers'' by the Japanese director Mizoguchi. He formulates, in the end, the opinion according to which '' a philosophical situation emerges the moment in which a choice, a choice of existence or a choice of thought, becomes clear'' (ibid). If, according to Badiou, there are " three great tasks of philosophy: to deal with choice, with distance and with the exception - at least if philosophy is to count for something in life, to be something other than an academic discipline" then, philosophy, "faced with circumstances, looks for the link between three types of situation: the link between choice, distance and the exception [...] a philosophical concept, in the sense that Deleuze speaks of it, which is to say as a creation - is always what knots together a problem of choice (or decision), a problem of distance (or gap), and a problem of the exception (or event) (Badiou, Zizek, 2009, p.19). The activation of these criteria that Badiou accepts regarding the recognition of the philosophical situation, links the question about the definition of philosophy to the possibility of its detection in different kinds of ''material'' (used as educational ones: literary texts, films, paintings, etc.).

(12) See the three "schemas" which Philippe Sabot processes in relation to the two models of "binding the philosophical with the literary" (a relation of exclusion and external connection of subordination of the literary to the philosophical versus an internal, mutual interconnection):

  • "didactic schema": a notion borrowed from Alain Badiou (Petit manuel d'inesthétique, Paris, Seuil, 1998) to denote the application of philosophical elements on the literary text, so that the meaning emanates from a thought which is external and heterochronic,
  • "interpretative shema" (see the notion of "romantic schema" in Badiou, ibid.) for the recognition of the production of original thought in literary texts: literature can be "a place of an essential revelation", it may harbor, that is, "a philosophical truth which pervades it and which constitutes the depth its texts". However, this truth is not yielded directly within the literary text in an expressed and visible way but "essentially escapes" it, so that it falls upon interpretation to "recover or reveal this tacit meaning of the oeuvre" (Sabot Ph., Philosophie et littérature. Approches et enjeux d'une question, Paris, P.U.F., 2002,. Both schemas presuppose, in the end, that philosophy holds a predominant position and that the relation remains inevitably external. As a result, Sabot suggests yet a third schema, in which such a mutual externality between literature and philosophy does not exist, but, instead, we find a "mutual intertwining/implication, as it can be read at the very level of literary texts and, indeed, in their construction" (ibid., p. 217):
  • "productive schema", according to which literary experience is considered as a mental experiment, it produces, that is, thought, philosophy. In this sense, literature becomes reflective: "it sets in motion, in the form of a differentiated and determinate practice of writing" (Sabot, 2017, p.213). Here, Prelorentzos (translator in Greek of the above work of Sabot: ed. Gutenberg, 2017, pp. 176-8) underlines the distinction, attempted by certain scholars, of a fourth schema, the "experimental schema", which corresponds to what he calls "thinking on the condition of literature" and he treats the mental experiment as the literary text constructs it "as something which takes place in the renewed language, pertinent to the text, but in a completely immanent way. In other words, the text thinks in its own, very particular form" (s. Lorenzini D. Revel. A., Le Travail de la littérature. Usages du littéraire en philosophie Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2012, ref. by Prelorentzos in his introduction to Sabot, ibid, pp. 81-2).

(13) See Deleuze G., Qu'est-ce que l'acte de création?, lecture in the scope of ''Mardis de la Fondation'', March 17th, 1987, See also : Deleuze G., Guattari F. (1975). Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure. Paris. Les Editions de Minuit.

(14) Cf. the refusal of Iris Murdoch to recognize a ''general role'' of philosophy within literature'' and, in general, her hesitation regarding the possibility of their mixing or the recognition of a concrete philosophical dimension within the literary text (Murdoch, I. (1999): Existentialists and Mysticists. Texts on Philosophy and Literature. Penguin Books and Magee B. (2001): Talking Philosophy: Dialogues with Fifteen Leading Philosophers. Oxford University Press).

(15) This recognition, as far as children's literature, in specific, is concerned, passes through the possibility of perceiving aspects such as: 1. philosophy (how philosophy is conceived) within and without the (particular) text, 2. literature (how literature is conceived), within and without the (particular) text, 3. the possible relation between literature and philosophy, within and without the text, 4. the child, childhood and infantility (outside of philosophical and literary perceptions), 5. the possible relation amongst philosophy, literature and the child, the childhood and the infantility (as perceived by philosophy and literature within and without the (particular) text, 6. the genre and kind of text (restrictions and particularities) 7. the relevant didactic/pedagogical goals during the elaboration on the text (systematization and didactic institutionalization of the act of reading).

(16) When the philosophical elements are organically incorporated in the narrative, the expression, the character and the literary style (even the elements drawn by the author from the philosophical literature and adopted by him/her to the needs of the work, his/her own perceptions, since we are dealing with open questions, resisting any attempt at a final answer (Kitcher P. (2013): Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach. N. Y. Columbia University Press), the discriminating barriers between systematic philosophy and literature appear to fall apart (as in the case of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Voltaire, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Coleridge, Proust, Kafka, Camus and even more widely, Sophocles, Shakespeare or Joyce). On the other side, Kitcher places philosophy as occurring within the sphere of literary works, in which the author elaborates on ''philosophical riddles'', without, however, incorporating them organically in the plot, and allowing them thus to serve as an opportunity to express the author's opinions. Nevertheless, this kind of ''argumentative fictionalism'' is ''typically dead'' (ibid p.17).

(17) Here, the sense of organicity is not connected either to the act of creation/writing of the text by a mind in charge, "as a constant point of reference for meaning'' (Virvidakis St., Reed-Tsocha, 2008, p.189) or to the idea of aggregate unity, but refers, instead, to the attempt at viewing the text from within, at recognizing its particular movements, at following them, so that the exploration becomes incorporated in it, so that it listens to it, even with a view to choosing to deviate or depart from it, eventually, in order to serve aesthetic purposes. In this context, the use of thematic concepts in literary works could equally make sense, that is, by being subject to more general goals concerning the organization-development of works (see infra, note 17). The concept of' "organic form'' or "organic unity'', pertaining to a romantic aesthetic, was originally formulated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Coleridge's lectures on Shakespeare & other poets and dramatists, London: J. M. Dent & Sons, NewYork: P. Dutton & Co, 1914/1907) in the footsteps of Plato and Aristotle: theme, form, technique, idea are interconnected to an organic whole which holds the parts together: "The organic form, on the other hand, is innate ; it shapes, as it develops, itself from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. Such as the Life is, such is the form" (Coleridge, 1914, pp. 46-7). By contrast to mechanic regularity (absolute identification with the original as if it came from the same mould), in organic regularity, the parts obey a law and abide by the external expressions of the essential (ibid., p. 455).

(18) See the juxtaposition between the possibility to produce an infinity of ''interpretable and reinterpretable meanings within the different context of each reader, who does not possess a constant identity either,'' and to perceive ''a finate multisemantic quality of the texts, the revelation of which is subject to the application of certain trans-subjective criteria,'' in the frame of later, postmodern theories (Virvidakis St., Reed-Tsocha, C. (2008): The modern problematic of philosophy of literature, in Deukalion 26/2, p.190). See Flaubert's desire to write a book about nothing, which would almost lack a theme, or, at least, whose subject would be almost invisible - a book without an external grip, standing by itself, by virtue of the internal power of its style, just as the earth stands unsupported in the air. The most beautiful works are those where the least possible matter can be found - the more the expression approaches the thought, the more the word disappears, the more beautiful becomes the work (Flaubert G.: Lettres à Louise Colet, (2003): C. Casin-pellegrini (Éd. Scientifique), Paris, Magnard, Vendredi soir [16 janvier 1852]).

(19) See, for instance, literary forms of writing which have been systematically adopted by philosophical writing (or, conversely, according to Danto, see the ability of philosophy to produce literary forms of expression: essay, speech, diary, comments, aphorisms, oaths, notes, excerpts, sketches, memoires, dialogues, letters, poetry, meditations, treatises, readings, researches, manifestos, confessions, hymns, encyclopaedias, prolegomena, parerga, testimonies, thoughts, texts in internet blogging etc. (see Shusterman, R., (2010): Philosophy as Literature and More than Literature. In G. L. Hagberg, W. Jost: A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 7-21). Danto completes the list with: lectures, compositions, appendixes, sententiae, novels and innumerable forms which have not yet been identified as types: Holzwege, grammatologies, genealogies, phenomenologies (Danto A.C. (1989): "Philosophy as/and/of Literature" in A. J. Cascardi (ed.): Literature and the Question of Philosophy. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 3-23).

(20) On this basis one can discern the following functional properties of texts:

  • Philosophical texts for children with precise and consciously organized philosophical goals and pre-constructed/ preselected philosophical elements
  • Literary, philosophical texts (double-faced texts, double-edged tools, mixed writing, possibility of double reading)
  • Literary texts with philosophical aiming which reveal explorative, discursive nuclei (in connection to and with the intention/analytic capability of the educator) - literary texts which incorporate typical philosophical elements
  • Variety of forms of texts (literary or not) with random, additional philosophical (or philosophical-like) elements, independently of the kind of text
  • Purely philosophical texts
  • Philosophical literature. In any case the categories are more suggestive of a dynamic of relations than they organize closed areas with precise characteristics for the classification of texts: the specification of the categories is necessarily schematic, the boundaries between categories possess a high degree of uncertainty and are subject to reinterpretations relative to the underlying conceptions of philosophy and literature, but also to the didactic intentions (see Theodoropoulou, E., (2009). En búsqueda de la filosofía en la literatura: complicaciones pedagógicas. In A. Zambrano Leal (compil.), Literature y Formacion, Ediciôn educaciôn superior, Programa de Maestria en Educaciôn Superior USC - Universidad Santiago de Cali, pp. 12-41).

See, correspondingly, the domains of the relations between philosophy and literature :

  • Philosophy as literature,
  • Literature as philosophy,
  • Literary theory,
  • Philosophical imperatives of literary criticism,
  • Ethics and Literature (Kokkoris, D. (2015): Philosophy & Modern Greek Literature, Aspects of a complex Relation, Athens, Sideris editions, pp. 11-2 [in Greek]).

A variety of complementary terms is accordingly located in the ways in which literature welcomes, brings forward, incorporates, exhibits, communicates philosophy, such as:

  • "philosophy through literature" (in this case, it is literature that probably constitutes the aesthetic means for the promotion of philosophical interest, as in the case of Lucretius),
  • "philosophy in literature'' (latent and incorporated philosophical content, calling for interpretative exploration),
  • "philosophy as literature" (as in the platonic dialogues, see Quinton, A. (1985): 'The Divergence of the Twain: Poet's Philosophy and Philosopher's Philosophy'. In A. Quinton. From Wodehouse to Wittgenstein. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 275-292 Raphael, D. D. (1983): 'Can Literature be Moral Philosophy?' In New Literary History. Vol. 15, pp.1-12).

Kitcher discerns "three degrees of philosophical implication which the literary or musical work may exhibit" - starting from the most superficial one:

  • The simple use of philosophical references with a view to enriching the literary text (Dickens's case is characteristically mentioned)
  • The application of essential ideas, taken from the history of philosophy, for the sake of the literary work (Dante's Inferno is mentioned, in terms of its organization on the basis of Aristotelian principles)
  • The exploitation of fiction for the exploration of philosophical questions, to which, however, the writer unfolds his/her own answers.

In the same vein, Quinton suggests the discrimination of three groups of literary writers the 'couturiers' (for the presentation of pre-existing philosophical elements), the "philosophical novelists" and the "philosophical poets" (for the non-philosophical writers who form a complete and well-articulated system of ideas with a conscious reference to philosophical theories, so that they become philosophical producers, like Dante, Milton, Tolstoy, Unamuno or Santayana). Nevertheless, philosophical poets and philosophical novelists are distinctly identified against philosopher-poets and philosopher-novelists. The former formulate views which are cohesive enough within a variety of big problems and yet do not succeed in creating a distinct system of thought (like Virgil, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Shelley, Balzac, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire, Thomas Mann. See Quinton, 1985).

(21) Nussbaum puts forth in a precise way that literary texts have the ability of activating a series of questions with which philosophy and, indeed, ethical philosophy, is concerned: thus, a concept of ethical understanding containing both emotional and mental activity is supported, by giving priority to the concept of particular persons and circumstances rather than abstract rules. This specific ethical conception outweighs in rationality and in the appropriate kind of specificity while being expressed and formulated in the most appropriate way in certain forms which are usually considered literary rather than philosophical, a fact which allows for such kind of texts to be included in the scope of ethical philosophy. In this way, the relation between the literary elements and more abstract theoretical elements is included in the scope of a wider ethical research (Nussbaum, M. (1990): Love's Knowledge: Essays in Philosophy and Literature, Oxford University Press.)

(22) In an intermediate path, which slowly unfolds by covering the distance between the two ways, emerges the necessity of retrieving or formulating (or reformulating) philosophical questions in relation to the text: These questions may be possibly

  • formulated by the heroes/heroines themselves (see 1st way),
  • implied or directly inferred by the thoughts and words of the heroes/heroines (see 1st and 2nd way),
  • posed indirectly by the very elements of the text (to wit, the way in which the writer's mind has opted to lay out the text/ 1st and 2nd way),
  • formulated by the reader, provided that he/she wishes to clarify how the heroes/heroines are motivated, what their reasons for action are, how some elements in the text work and what their dynamic is (2nd way),
  • formulated by the reader, provided that he/she wishes to understand the writer's intention (and, in this case, the gaps or leaps or the complications of the text are revealed, in a narrative, syllogistic, semantic level etc),
  • formulated by the reader, provided that he/she wishes to understand the scope, depth and extend of certain concepts presented or implied in the text (3rd way).

(23) According to Lamarque and Olsen, if the ''thematic concepts'' constitute the heart of philosophical discourcee as a noetic activity (since it is these concepts that epitomize the essence of the issues that concern philosophical discourse), literature is not connected with these but only indirectly. It is also possible to contemplate, through these thematic concepts, on the relation between philosophy and literature, to the extent that they encounter each other and, more precisely, become neighbors, on the basis of these concepts. Occasionally, it may occur that the thematic concepts, by virtue of which the subject of a literary work is not only identified but constructed, are found in the text itself but, in principle, it is the reader who must bring those concepts to this work and establish the connection among them and the work, through the creation of a conceptual network. A network that will allow the reader to bind together, in his/her imagination, the different elements and aspects that he/she recognizes in the text but also to specify the applications of the thematic concepts themselves. This constructive endeavour constitutes par excellence the concept of "literary appreciation" which concerns the recognition of the subject and the application of a manifold of thematic concepts to a particular literary work - in this sense, however, thematic concepts are void, if they are perceived separately from the way in which they intersect in particular texts, to wit, with the development of thematic analysis. Thematic concepts are distinguished in local ones (which specify problems concerning a particular group of people in a particular period of time) and eternal ones, which are concerned with crucial issues of understanding life. (Lamarque, P., Haugom Olsen, S. (1994): Truth, Fiction, and Literature: A Philosophical Perspective. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, p. 403, mentioned in : Vidmar, 2015, 18 & Haugom Olsen, S. (1984): Thematic Concepts: Where Philosophy Meets Literature. In.A. Ph. Griffiths (ed.). Philosophy and Literature. N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, pp. 75-93).

(24) See the issue concerning the reference of language of a literary text to the world (either as a world created by the literary text and its author, or a historical world created by the people beyond the textual world). The ontological function of literature consists in the tension between those references and calls upon the recognition of the text's ability to create worlds (see Shiner R. A. (2010): "Philosophy and Literature: Friends of the Earth?" In G. L. Hagberg, W. Jost (2010): pp. 22-37).

(25) If, for Foucault, following the nietzschean genealogy, there is no history but that of the boundaries, this is because boundaries correspond to a rupture of the continuity of the historic process. Similarly for literature and the practice of thought that corresponds to it: the linguistic cases which challenge our thought and shape themeaning are those which are produced especially at the borderline of any attempt at universalizing discourse, at a language as a unified system, and allow, thus, to our thought to reach this boundary, "where language becomes separated from itself and open to a game of infinite variations" in a kind of personal, de-subjectifying experience, which exits the system and is not itself systematizable, a gesture "inside and at the margin of historic conditions of a system of thought", an "ontological rupturing", an aberration (Foucault, M. (1963). Raymond Roussel. Paris. Gallimard, 167, ref. in Sabo Ph. (2003) : "La littérature aux confins du savoir : sur quelques "dits et écrits" de Michel Foucault", in. P.-Fr. Moreau : Lectures de Michel Foucault, Vol.3, Paris, ENS Éditions, pp.17-33).

(26) Danto traces a point of intersection between philosophy and literature at the event of "readability", that is, the event of becoming objects of reading as a true condition of their existence, while, conversely, the particular reading, each time, is revealed to the reader. It is precisely for the same reason that philosophy is not literature. The objective is for the reader not to become ontologically imponderable, a kind of disintegrated professional consciousness (Danto, 1989, pp. 22-3).

(27) Cf. conversely to such a functionalization, Borges's formulation, to the effect that "philosophy is a branch of imaginary literature" (Borges, J. L. O. Ferrari (1992). Diálogos. Barcelone: SeixBarral, p. 206).

(28) It is, however, interesting, if the notion of conversation in Greek language, in contrast with the usual retreat to commonplaces or moderate, neutral uses in educational environments (See Theodoropoulou E. (2012): "Dialogical pretentiousness in education and philosophical dystropia" Dia-logos, Annual of Philosophical Research, Athens, Papazisis ed. 2, pp. 241-269), could welcome the systematic revelation of the searching element, by gradually incorporating it into the intensive process of inquiry, as included in the frame of the conceptually and morphologically established "community of inquiry" (see Kennedy, D. (1991): "Community of Inquiry and Educational Structure" in Thinking, the Journal of Philosophy for Children, Vol. 9, no 4). But on the other hand, allow to the restructuring of the concept itself to include with equal intensity the element of community. Thus, conversation (as common inquiry) would correspond to a stand for the community of inquiry and also to the action which reveals and materializes it. In the light of this clarification, philosophical conversations, which intervene and articulate the route from the interior of the literary text to its wide exterior (where they ultimately tend to become autonomous and follow new paths), construct an enclave of meanings, where the literary, the philosophical, the pedagogic, the didactic complete each other and depend on each other (see Theodoropoulou E. (2012), as above).

(29) Theodoropoulou E. (2013): "Something in the world makes us think" in Theodoropoulou E. (ed., intr., transl.) Philosophy, philosophy are you here? Doing philosophy with children, Athens, Diadrasis, pp. 333-345.

(30) "-What surprises me is that a metaphysical situation touched you in such a specific way. - But it is something very specific, says Françoise, the entire meaning of my life is at stake here. - I am not saying no, Pierre replies. It is, however, quite an exception, to possess this power to live an idea with your soul and body" (excerpt from the novel "L'invitée", by Simone de Beauvoir, as the epigraph of the chapter entitled : "Le roman et la métaphysique" in Merleau-Ponty, 1996, p. 34). Simone de Beauvoir creates a hybrid kind of philosophical-literary text, on the principle that the disjunction between philosophy and life is not obligatory, on the contrary, it is useful to construct a textual entity, a third gender of writing, which crosses the boundaries imposed by the systematic perception of each field in isolation (Beauvoir, S. De (2008/1948) : L'existentialisme et la sagesse des nations, Paris, Gallimard). Here, philosophy neither moves nor underpins the literary work (neither does it preceed nor dominate it), but is created through it and founded upon it (Theodoropoulou 2009). In the context of Beauvoir's existentialist thought, before we contemplate the world, this world must become the object of experience : reality is revealed through the unity of action-emotion-thought (Holveck, E., (2002). Simone de Beauvoir's Philosophy of Lived Experience: Literature and Metaphysics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield) and the blending of emotion, facts and philosophy (Beauvoir S. De (1998): A Transatlantic Love Affair : Letters to Nelson Algren. New York: New Press).

(31) Theodoropoulou E.: 2013, p. 334.

(32) Analogous to the power of the intervening pedagogue as interpreter/intermediate with regard to the literary text (see Marshall D.G. (1992): "Literary interpretation" in J. Gibaldi (ed.): Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures. New York: Modern Languages Association of America, p. 163). See also: Theodoropoulou, E. (2010): "Philosophy, Philosophy for Children, and Educational Aims: Affinities, Parallelisms and Exclusions." In E., Marsal, T., Dobashi, B., Weber (Hrsg.), Children Philosophize Worldwide: Theoretical and Practical Concepts, Hodos - Wege bildungsbezogener Ethikforschung in Philosophie und Theologie herausgegeben vom Institut für Philosophie und Theologie, Karlsruhe, Germany: Band 9, pp. 559-565.

(33) The literary work and that of philosophy may no longer stand separately [...] philosophical expression takes on the same amphisemies as literary expression, if the world is created in such a way as to only admit of expression through "stories" and as to resist "finger pointing". We shall witness not only hybrid means of expression, but the novel and the theatre will become metaphysical throughout, even when they do not use a singly philosophical word" (Merleau-Ponty, p. 36). However, against any philosophicalization of literature or literarization of philosophy, Cavell's question is still significant: "But can philosophy become literature and still know itself?" (Cavell, St. (1979): The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy. New York: Oxford University Press).

(34) Foucault M. Le beau danger. Entretien avec Cl. Bonnefoy, Paris : éd. EHESS, 2001.

(35) This is about a non static configuration which disposes a map in correlation with the gradual formation of spaces of emergence of philosophical discourses and practices & of their connections as well. Boxings, expansions, articulations organize a landscape which, as it is crossed, is modified (developed or shrunken) on the basis of the effort marked on the map through the presentation of examples of philosophical movement (Theodoropoulou, E., PhilosophAlia: Philosophy everywhere (?), Workshop organized by the "Laboratory of Research in Practical & Applied Philosophy" (L.R. P. A.Ph.), 20 February 2016, Rhodes.

Diotime, n°77 (07/2018)

Diotime - Grèce - 'Some-thing inside it': Philosophy everywhere (?). Philosophical findings in literature paths.