Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts (英語) ペーパーバック – 1993/10/15
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Representations--in visual arts and in fiction--play an important part in our lives and culture. Kendall Walton presents here a theory of the nature of representation, which illuminates its many varieties and goes a long way toward explaining its importance.
Drawing analogies to children's make believe activities, Walton constructs a theory that addresses a broad range of issues: the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, how depiction differs from description, the notion of points of view in the arts, and what it means for one work to be more "realistic" than another. He explores the relation between appreciation and criticism, the character of emotional reactions to literary and visual representations, and what it means to be caught up emotionally in imaginary events.Walton's theory also provides solutions to the thorny philosophical problems of the existence--or ontological standing--of fictitious beings, and the meaning of statements referring to them. And it leads to striking insights concerning imagination, dreams, nonliteral uses of language, and the status of legends and myths.
Throughout Walton applies his theoretical perspective to particular cases; his analysis is illustrated by a rich array of examples drawn from literature, painting, sculpture, theater, and film. Mimesis as Make-Believe is important reading for everyone interested in the workings of representational art.
Kendall Walton's book is one of the few genuinely distinguished contributions to aesthetic theory published in the last decade or two. It will be essential reading for anyone in the field and contains much that will be of great interest to scholars and critics of the arts. (Marshall Cohen, University of Southern California)
Rigor, ingenuity and arresting subtlety are evident in the detailed working out of Walton's ideas. (Times Literary Supplement)
Walton's aim...is to explore and explain the foundations of the representational arts. His theory is one that he has stated and restated with increasing detail and sophistication over the last seventeen years, and in this book it bears all the refinement and subtlety of argument that analytic philosophy can muster. This is an engaging, insightful, and persuasive volume. (Philosophy and Literature)
This is philosophy at its best; combining the breadth of concern of the best continental philosophy (but shorn of its often wilful cloudiness) and the precision of the best analytical philosophy...A work of very great importance that will set the agenda for discussions in aesthetics for a long time to come. (Philosophy)
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Following in the tradition of Wittgenstein and Derrida, Walton argues that fiction comes from playful use of signifiers, what Wittgenstein would call "language games" or "language-play." When we experience fiction, according to Walton, we "act as if" the fictional world were real. Walton introduces an epistemology of fiction, with the operator "it is fictional" functioning much like the operator "it is true" functions in our world -- but with the strong admonition that being fictional is not the same thing as being true.
This philosophy of fiction as a way for humans to "act as if" is appealing on several grounds. It fits well with common sense notions of fiction, and unlike many competing theories, does not force us to go against our pretheoretical ways of talking about fiction. We do not need to commit ourselves to fictional universes housing fictional beings, but we also do not need to say that any statement involving fictional beings is false. Everything is worked out quite precisely, true to the analytic tradition, with a few brief forays into symbolic logic. But unlike many analytic philosopherse, Walton still takes art and fiction seriously, and does not dismiss them as pathological forms of signification.
Overall, this book is entertaining, well-written, an enjoyable read, and intellectually groundbreaking. It provides a way to think about fiction that, for the first time, obviates the need for heroic assumptions or unappealing ontological constructs.