What Is The Goal Of Literature?


Literature Is About Seeing

The goal of literature is to enable us to see our own limitlessness in the life of another. As such, literature might be thought of as the imaginative extension of compassion, procured by detailed, painstaking methods. The enormous success of this art form speaks volumes about the strength of our desire to see.

Paradox of Fiction

The paradox of fiction has befuddled philosophers – how can we become emotionally invested in characters we know, beyond a shadow of doubt, do not exist? Our emotional attachment is clear, as a great novel can alter our mood for days, or longer. It might even “change our life”.

We endure fictional characters. We care about what happens to them. And we know, all the while, that these characters are not real. No one knows why this is so. Attempts to solve the paradox of fiction have been problematic. Literature can draw us so deeply into paradox because it exploits the ability to see ourself in the other.

A Good Life
A Good Life: Philosophy from Cradle to Grave

Mark Rowlands

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