Monday, April 14, 2014

What Kelp Remembers

Weird Tales, one of the best and oldest horror and dark fantasy magazines, has just launched a new series of ultra-short flash fiction (under 500 words), Flashes of Weirdness. To inaugurate the series, they've chosen a piece of mine -- which is now my second publication in speculative fiction.

My philosophical aim in the story -- What Kelp Remembers -- is to suggest that on a creationist or simulationist cosmology, the world might serve a very different purpose than we're normally inclined to think.

At some point, I want to think more about the merit of science fiction as a means of exploring metaphysical and cosmological issues of this sort. I suspect that fiction has some advantages over standard expository prose as a philosophical tool in this area, but I'm not satisfied that I really understand why.

6 comments:

Michel Clasquin-Johnson said...

Perhaps you're just discovering something what French philosophes have always known: Voltaire's Candide, Camus' The Stranger ... it seems de rigeur for French thinkers to express themselves in fiction and drama. Even the Germans got into the act a little with Nietzsche.

But not, of course, in the prim and proper Anglo-American tradition! I'll grant you Iris Murdoch, but she was Irish-born. Ayn Rand doesn't count. Russian.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/11/sean-mcgrady-top-10-philosophers-novels

chinaphil said...

That's a lovely story. Perhaps fiction works because you don't have to situate fiction in the field at the outset - a process which inevitably involves use of contested terminology. The narrative function of fiction then acts like a big red neon arrow saying "please look at this idea", so you get less quibbling with concepts which are not central to your thesis.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Michel: You're right -- not so much in the Anglo-American tradition, though Dan Dennett's "Where Am I?" is a classic and maybe we can count Olaf Stapledon. Most of my favorite historical philosophers have crossed and blended genre, and there's really quite a long list of great philosophers who have done this well, going back to Plato in the West and Zhuangzi in the East.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Chinaphil: Interesting point. I do think that's part of the advantage, though I suspect there are other things at work too.

Juan said...

Maybe being more emotionally involved in the text, through characters and an interesting setting, makes the philosophical ideas seem more alive and relevant.

Callan S. said...

Interesting point, Michel!