This paper is an attempt to place conflict within stories into two basic ontological and epistemological categories. The first category, "ecological conflict" has its ground in the elements of basic human agency, cognition and identity. By exploring the internal logic of such conflicts, we can comprehend violence in human life and culture (at least in part). Non-ecological violence, on the other hand, can mask or distort our comprehension of ecological violence. These categories of violence, found in many works of realist fiction, are grimly expressed in United States democratic culture. Hence, the final aim of the essay is to show how these kinds of conflict are related and then crucially relevant for understanding violence in United States culture. Several examples from contemporary fiction and culture are discussed in the paper.
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Professor, Philosophy, United States
IA, United States
I am currently deeply involved in the philosophy of art, especially narrative art and the philosophical analysis of fiction. My main goal is to lift philosophical ideas and answers from fiction. What holds my work together in the big picture is the notion that narrative art actually reveals aspects of reality that philosophy can only abstractly articulate. Hence, my theoretical approach and relatively difficult essays are ultimately aimed at resolving questions that have pragmatic implications. For instance, I am currently working on the idea that human beings can systematically misunderstand themselves and the meaning of their own acts. I believe that this notion of human finitude is consistently revealed in narrative art, especially realism or tragic realism. Finally, my work is moving toward a philosophical understanding of radical injustice and radical evil that can be a path toward human empathy, restoration, and possibly redemption. All of my work aims to understand our common humanity in its strange, common, diverse, and perverse manifestations.