LITERATURE, PHILOSOPHY AND THE IMAGINATION by
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LITERATURE, PHILOSOPHY AND THE IMAGINATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Since Newton and Kant, science and the human understanding giving rise to it have held the pedestal of philosophical reverence, while the timeless tradition of the humanities has been relegated to the status of an amusing, but unenlightening, poor relation. Here is a demonstration and a plea for reinstating the products of the imagination--literary, metaphysical, ethical, and religious--as equally valid instances of knowledge, not of the physical world circumscribed by the ""scientific chain of meaning"", but of human experience in its widest, and most baffling, sense. Mr. Levi's material is Protean first, the historical chain of philosophers who did attend to the ""humanistic complex"", and then, examples drawn from the entire range of philosophy in literature from the Greeks to T.S. Eliot and Graham Greene. In contrast to science, the metaphysical ""logic of the imagination"" is revealed in its preference of value to fact, its emphasis on ""organic unification, purposiveness, and drama"" in experience, and its inevitable concern with appearance vs. reality, with destiny and fate, with tragedy and teleology. These concepts are explored here and supported from the annals of Western culture. The technical philosophy is, for the most part, intelligently transposed and clarified. Although Mr. Levi's purpose perhaps requires more coherent justification than he gives, his ""defense of the humanities"" is admirably expansive and eloquent. A timely subject in academic orbs and an important tribute to the tradition of belles-letters.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1962
Publisher: Indiana University Press