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Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts Revised ed. Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0674576032
ISBN-10: 0674576039
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

Review

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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised ed. edition (October 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674576039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674576032
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Mimesis As Make-Believe is one of the most intellectually satisfying books I've read in a long time. Walton begins by exploring some obvious -- but too often neglected -- questions about imagination, fictionality, and make-believe. He then introduces several theories of fiction (from the analytic tradition), and some theories of the ontology fictional beings, until finally introducing his own theory as a solution to the dilemmas others leave unsolved.
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.
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