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Philosophical fiction
FeaturesSignificant proportion devoted to discussion of questions normally addressed in discursive philosophy
Novel of ideas

Philosophical fiction is any fiction that devotes a significant portion of its content to the sort of questions addressed by philosophy. It might explore any facet of the human condition, including the function and role of society, the nature and motivation of human acts, the purpose of life, ethics or morals, the role of art in human lives, the role of experience or reason in the development of knowledge, whether there exists free will, or any other topic of philosophical interest. Philosophical fiction includes the novel of ideas, which can also fall under the genre of science fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, and bildungsroman.

There is no universally accepted definition of philosophical fiction, but a sampling of notable works can help to outline its history. For example, a Platonic dialogue could be considered philosophical fiction.[1] Some modern philosophers have written novels, plays, or short fiction in order to demonstrate or introduce their ideas. Common examples include Voltaire, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand. Authors who admire certain philosophers may incorporate their ideas into the principal themes or central narratives of novels. Some examples include The Moviegoer (Kierkegaard), Thus Spake Zarathustra (Nietzsche), Wittgenstein's Mistress (David Markson), and Speedboat (post-structuralism).

See also


  1. ^ Wardy, Robert (1998). The Birth of rhetoric Gorgias, Plato and their successors. London; New York: Routledge. p. 54. ISBN 0-415-14643-7.