Reading the Other
Novels and the Problem of Other Minds
Combines literature and philosophy to explore whether and to what extent we can know the thoughts and feelings of others
In Reading the Other, Carol de Dobay Rifelj looks at the philosophical Problem of Other Minds, which is concerned with whether and to what extent we can know the thoughts or sensations of others. She begins by discussing Cartesian skepticism – the idea that one person cannot know the mind of another – and examines how it has been addressed in the twentieth century, from the later Wittgenstein to Stanley Cavell. Finally, she looks at how the Problem of Other Minds is represented in fiction – from the detective stories of Dashiell Hammett and Arthur Conan Doyle to the work of Marcel Proust, Villers de L’Isle Adam, Prosper Merimee, and Anthony Powell. Reading the Other is a fascinating book that provides insight into an intriguing and eduring philosophical questions.
Praise / Awards
"The consequences of these readings for philosophy, for literary criticism, and for an understanding of human life are significant."
--Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College
". . . Rifelj suggests in the end that the traditional division between philosophy and literature, between reason and emotion, should be reevaluated to uncover the means of understanding between these two seemingly bipolar modes of thought and representation. Reading the Other recasts the role of the novel, no longer presented as a deliberately misleading construction of artifice and illusion, but as a promising means towards clearer understanding of ourselves and others."
--Nineteenth-Century French Studies
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