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‘A cataclysm of truth from the crisis of falsehood’: reading Habermas on Calvino

Boucher, Geoff 2015, ‘A cataclysm of truth from the crisis of falsehood’: reading Habermas on Calvino, Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy, no. 22, pp. 22-37.

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Title ‘A cataclysm of truth from the crisis of falsehood’: reading Habermas on Calvino
Author(s) Boucher, GeoffORCID iD for Boucher, Geoff orcid.org/0000-0002-2768-9958
Journal name Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy
Issue number 22
Start page 22
End page 37
Total pages 16
Publisher Open Humanities Press
Place of publication [Melbourne, Vic.]
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1834-3287
Keyword(s) Lacan
Habermas
Calvino
Summary Interest in the possibility of a Habermasian approach to literary criticism has recently been sparked by several book-length contributions from scholars working in the field of Frankfurt School Critical Theory. This article seeks to clarify the conceptual stakes in the current debate, which concern whether literature makes truth claims or merely imaginatively discloses new perceptions with a truth potential, by returning to Habermas’s most extended encounter with a literary work since the 1970s. Against the background of the philosophical issues, I re-read to Calvino’s highly self-reflexive If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller to show that in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Habermas has managed to get everything backwards. Literature here reads philosophy alright, but not in the sense of the ludic deconstruction of rational argumentation into rhetorical play that Habermas supposes. Using the notion of an ontological poetics of self-reflexive literature, and with some help from Lacanian psychoanalysis, I interpret Calvino’s novel as a sustained meditation on the connection between authentic literature and the desire to read. In this light, it not only looks like Habermas has missed his polemical target, but, also, and more significantly, it becomes clear that abandonment of the link between literature and truth is misguided.
Notes Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.
Language eng
Field of Research 220207 History and Philosophy of The Humanities
200525 Literary Theory
Socio Economic Objective 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Open Humanities Press
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30075334

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.