Refusing to make any simplifying theoretical statements :: Philosophy and/as/of Literature

Why should it be evident that simplicity and theoretical abstractness are desiderata in a piece of philosophical writing? Couldn’t a text be a work of moral philosophy precisely by showing the complexity and indeterminacy that is really there in human life, and by refusing to make any simplifying theoretical statements? . . . By saying only what can be said and by refusing to say anything simpler, less storylike, than human life is, the novel does make a philosophical claim (about the human truth and, implicitly, about the limits of theory) that could not simply be paraphrased in a nonnovelistic text. (For such a text can so easily claim, in and by its very style, that complexity is reducible, even if its content denies this.)

–Martha Craven Nussbaum (paraphrasing a point made by Cora Diamond) [From the Vol. 15, No. 1, Autumn, 1983 issue of New Literary History]

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