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Om kyrklundheten: Värde, kunskap och skrivande i Willy Kyrklunds Om godheten
Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Humanities.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The quest for certainty is a constant theme in the works of Swedish-Finnish author Willy Kyrklund. This quest is communicated both explicitly in essayistic prose articles and implicitly as a theme in his works of fiction. The late essay hybrid Om godheten (”On Goodness”, 1988) is a key text in Kyrklund’s oeuvre in this regard as it consists of a mediation between these strategies of communication, the philosophical and the literary. With Om godheten as a starting-point it is the purpose of this study to bring the problem of knowledge to the fore by acknowledging its importance for Kyrklund’s strategies of writing and for his treatment of philosophical questions regarding for example morals and identity. The purpose is also to identify Kyrklund’s use of literature as a cognitive tool with which the reader is lead to reflect on the premises for knowledge and to view the act of reading as parallel to the constructing of knowledge. Furthermore the purpose is to acknowledge the importance of analytical philosophy and natural science in this literary strategy.

I consider Finnish philosopher Eino Kaila’s version of logical empiricism an important source of influence for Kyrklund. The gap between empirical (the appeal to experience) and rationalistic (the attempt to generalize) strategies in the strive for knowledge is pointed out as the root problem for logical empiricism by Kaila and this problem has also been touched upon explicitly by Kyrklund. While Kyrklund seems to subscribe to general empiricistic or logical-empiricistic virtues such as empiristic scrutiny, the appeal to science and the rejection of metaphysics, his work does not, however, offer any solutions of how to overcome this gap in any specific logical-empiricistic way. I recognize this gap, as well as the parallel gap between a subjective and an objective standpoint, as a figure of thought in Kyrklund’s literary thinking.

Examined in three thematic chapters concerning value, knowledge and writing respectively, the mediation between empiristic and rationalistic tendencies can be found on different levels in Om godheten: in evolutionary approaches to morals versus the teleological approach to morals, in descriptive meta-ethical naturalism versus normative naturalistic ethics, in observations versus laws of nature, in individual expression versus common language, in instances versus generalizing examples and in explorative essayistic modes of writing versus a sovereign metafictive authoral position, to name a few. In putting together traditional text types, genres and modes of writing in new contexts of thought Kyrklund enables a certain way of seeing: combined with several intertextual relations the literary process thus stands out as a parallel to the cognitive process and the epistemological inferiority, where no fundament for certain knowledge is possible, is communicated as an existential problem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ellerströms förlag , 2008. , p. 252
Keywords [en]
Kyrklund, naturalism in ethics, ethical dilemmas, personal identity, self-reflexive literature, metafiction, rhetoric, hybrid genre, essay genre, essayism, philosophy and literature, epistemology, empiricism, rationalism, logical empiricism, Kaila, Darwinism
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:vxu:diva-2471ISBN: 978-91-7247-145-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:vxu-2471DiVA, id: diva2:206410
Public defence
2008-12-20, Homeros, Hus F, Pelarplatsen 7, Växjö, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-01-14 Created: 2009-01-14 Last updated: 2010-03-10Bibliographically approved

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Sahlin, Johan

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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