The Ethical Significance of Literature: Moving Beyond the Moralism versus Autonomism Debate, No: 14 - 12/2018
Başlık
:
The Ethical Significance of Literature: Moving Beyond the Moralism versus Autonomism Debate
Yazar(lar)
:
Murat ÇELİK
Title
:
Edebiyatın Etik Önemi: Moralizm – Otonomizm Tartışmasının Ötesine Geçmek
Anahtar Kelimeler
:
Moralizm, Otonomizm, Edebiyat, Estetik, Etik Önem, Kurmaca, Okuma Olayı
Key Words
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Moralism, Autonomism, Literature, Aesthetics, Ethical Significance, Fiction, Reading Event
Özet 1 / Abstract 1
:
The last twenty years have seen a growing interest in the ethical value and ethical significance of literature. Some argue that literary works have moral affects on their readers while some others claim that literature can be approached only from an aesthetical point of view. If literary works have such an effect on the reader, the question is how do they achieve this function? What differs them from other kinds of texts? In this paper my aim is to reveal the peculiar ethical significance of literary works. In order to achieve this aim, I will argue that these works should be approached as fictional and aesthetic texts. Hence, I will also side with autonomist who defends the aesthetic and fictional autonomy of literary works. I will try to show that moralism and autonomism do not have to be formulated as rival camps, rather one can defend the ethical significance of literature by staying in the autonomist sphere. Moreover, one has to stay in the autonomist sphere if she wants to understand the peculiar ethical power of literature; the ethical power of literature as literature.
Özet 2 / Abstract 2
:
Son yirmi yıldır edebiyatın etik değeri ve gücü üzerine yapılan tartışmalarda bir yükselmeye tanık oluyoruz. Bazı düşünürler yazınsal yapıtların okuyucu üzerinde ahlaki bir etkisi olduğunu iddia ederken bazıları da edebiyatın hiçbir şekilde etik değerlendirmenin konusu olamayacağını, ancak estetik açıdan ele alınabileceğini savunuyorlar. Eğer yazınsal yapıtların okur üzerinde bu tür bir etkisi varsa soru bu yapıtların bu etkiyi nasıl gerçekleştirdikleri. Bu bağlamda yazınsal metinleri diğer metinlerden ayıran şey ne? Bu yazıda yapmak istediğim şey tam da bu özel etkileme durumunu, yazınsal metinlerin kendilerine özgü etik önemlerini açımlamak olacak. Bunun için bu metinlerin her şeyden önce birer kurgusal ve estetik metinler olarak ele alınması gerektiğini iddia edeceğim. Dolayısıyla yazınsal yapıtların estetik ve kurmacasal otonomisini savunan otonomistlerin de yanında saf tutacağım. Göstermeye çalışacağım şey moralizm ve otonomizmin rakip kamplar olarak formüle edilmek zorunda olmadığı olacak. Aksine otonomist çemberin için de kalarak da moralist bir tavır takınabileceğimizden, hatta eğer amacımız edebiyatın özgül etik önemini ortaya koymak ise yapmamız gerekenin tam da bu olduğunu göstermeye çalışacağım. Ancak edebiyatı bir estetik ve kurmaca metin olarak ele alırsak onun özgül etik gücünü, bu estetik ve kurmaca niteliğin içinden çıkıp gelen özgül gücünü anlayabiliriz.
Extended Summary
:
In this paper, I discuss the ethical significance of literary work of art on its readers. I claim that literature matters to our lives. This view has been defended by many in literary criticism. However, there are also other critics who oppose this view and claim that attributing such a significance to literature has the risk of deducing it to a mere instrument for transmitting ethically significant ideas to the reader. In order to prevent such an instrumentalization, these critics defend the autonomy of literature. We can categorize literary autonomy under two headings; aesthetic autonomism and fictional autonomism. Aesthetic autonomists claim that literary works are essentially aesthetic objects; thus they cannot be evaluated from an ethical point of view. Similarly, their main function can be defined only from an aesthetical point of view. These works are supposed to give the reader an aesthetic experience. They do not need to educate their readers in an ethical manner. Fictional autonomist, on the other hand, claims that the literary works do talk about fictional words; hence they are silent about the extratextual world. In that sense, they do not say anything to their readers about the world they inhabit, accordingly they are silent about the readers’ ethical dispositions and ethical concerns. In order to support my claim, I first scrutinize these two kinds of autonomisms. I agree with their concern and their claims that literary works are essentially aesthetic and fictional structures. However, I additionally claim that their aesthetical and fictional character does not necessarily result in their being silent about the extratextual world. On the contrary, they speak about the world we inhabit through this aesthetic and fictional character, and it is this unique way of speaking that reveals their peculiar ethical significance. In other words, if we are to talk about the ethical significance of literature as literature, we should reveal how these works affect our ethical disposition through their fictional and aesthetical character. To show that literary works are ethically significant through their aesthetic and fictional character, we need to think on the nature of these two characterizations and deal with some related problems. The first problem arises from the common understanding of identifying aesthetics with the formal properties of the work. This understanding formulates the literary work as a closed structure and suspends the ostensive referential function of the work. Hence, if we are to apprehend the work as an aesthetical structure, we should evaluate it through its formal structure, not through its reference. Apparently, such an understanding also supports the fictional autonomists who claim that the literary work is completely silent about the extratextual world. This is the second problem that we should deal with; the fictional limitedness of the work. These two problems are interrelated and need to be thought accordingly. A literary text says something to the reader. Autonomists focus on this something that the text says, and by means of structural analyses they explain what is said by the text, revealing its logic. But, explaining a text and interpreting it are different things. A literary text does not only say something; it says something about something. To interpret a text is to reveal its about. Autonomism achieves its claim at the expense of this about. To put in another way, by disregarding the about of the text, autonomism suspends “the matter of the text.” And, by suspending the matter of the text, we also lose sight of the significance of the text, see it as a close system that has nothing to do with the world of the reader. Hence, if we are to claim that a literary work is ethically significant for its readers, we should go beyond the formalist formulations and scrutinize again on the relation between the world of the text and the world of the reader. This can be done by apprehending literature not as a closed structure which is formulated by autonomists as an analogue of Sausurrean la langue, but as a discourse. As Emile Benveniste puts, “discourse is language put into action” (1971, p.223). This formulation gives discourse an eventful character. Hence, defining literary work as an analogue of discourse we attribute the reading act an eventful character. Reading becomes an event for the reader and it is through this event that the meaning and the ethical significance of the literary work are revealed. Through this event, the text is not necessarily deduced to something else by the reader. The reader we have in mind reads the work as an aesthetic and fictional structure. She is aware of the fact that the work does not directly refer to the extratextual world. However, this does not mean that the work is silent about the world that she inhabits. It talks about the world in an indirect way. It is through the reading event that the reader is forced to reflect on her ethical disposition. As a result, we need not to give up the fictional autonomist claim in order to defend the ethical significance of the work. Rather, we need to stick up for the fictional and aesthetical character of literature if we want to reveal the ethical significance of fictional narratives that are unique to them. Hence, we do not have to formulate autonomism and moralism as rival opinions about the ethical status of literature. In order to reveal the peculiar ethical significance of literature, we should defend its aesthetic and fictional autonomy and search for the ethical significance of the work by concentrating on the experience of the reader going through the event of reading.
Pdf
:
The Ethical Significance of Literature: Moving Beyond the Moralism versus Autonomism Debate Tam Metin / Full Text
No: 14 - 12/2018 - Tüm Makaleler
Makale Arama
Sayı
Anahtar Kelime, Yazar(lar)
Künye
Sahibi / Owner
Ertuğrul Rufayi TURAN
Editör ve Sorumlu Yazı İşleri Müdürü / Editor
Ertuğrul Rufayi TURAN
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Emrah AKDENİZ
Ömer Faik ANLI
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(Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi)
Erdal CENGİZ
(Ankara Üniversitesi)
Kurtuluş DİNÇER
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Ertuğrul Rufayi TURAN
(Ankara Üniversitesi)
Sedat YAZICI
(Çankırı Karatekin Üniversitesi)
Emrah Akdeniz
(Van Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi)
Senem KURTAR
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Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi, Felsefe Bölümü, Ankara

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