The Cognitive Value of Modernist Literature. Ricoeur's Conception of Productive Imagination Reconsidered

Leen Verheyen


When debating the cognitive value of the novel, philosophers

often focus on the resemblance between real and fictional world.

Therefore, it is a hardly surprising that modernist literature, such as Franz

Kafka’s novels, are rarely used as examples to support claims about the

novel’s cognitive value. In my paper, I therefore offer a starting point for

the development of a theory on the novel’s cognitive value that also works

for modernist literature by building on Paul Ricoeur’s conception of

productive imagination. Starting from a case study of a short story of

Kafka, I develop an account of the novel’s cognitive value that is based on

the tension between the literary work’s invitation to interpretation and its

simultaneous resistance against interpretation.


Ricoeur; Literature; Modernism; Imagination; Kafka

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Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy
Published by sdvig press, Genève-Lausanne
ISSN  2281-9177

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