Conceptual Knowledge in Literature

19 June 2019; 16:00-18:00

Senate House – Room 246



The claim that literature has conceptual content might at  first glance appear trivial: Literary texts are composed of sentences  which are built from concepts. Therefore, literature seems to be conceptual all the way down. This kind of conceptual content is, however, not specific to literature. The focus of this talk is a kind of conceptual content that is specific to literature as literature. It will be argued that this kind of conceptual content provides the reader with a specific kind of conceptual knowledge. This kind of conceptual knowledge is one of the things we appreciate in literature as literature. This view will be developed by a close reading of Robert Musil’s short story “The Perfecting of a Love.” Since philosophy is the discipline that claims to provide conceptual knowledge par excellence, a comparison of conceptual knowledge in philosophy and literature will conclude the talk.