Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts

Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts

Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts

Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts


Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Actsbrings together in one volume cutting-edge research that turns to recent findings in cognitive and neurobiological sciences, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and evolutionary biology, among other disciplines, to explore and understand more deeply various cultural phenomena, including art, music, literature, and film. The essays fulfilling this task for the general reader as well as the specialist are written by renowned authors H. Porter Abbott, Patrick Colm Hogan, Suzanne Keen, Herbert Lindenberger, Lisa Zunshine, Katja Mellman, Lalita Pandit Hogan, Klarina Priborkin, Javier Guti rrez-Rexach, Ellen Spolsky, and Richard Walsh. Among the works analyzed are plays by Samuel Beckett, novels by Maxine Hong Kingston, music compositions by Igor Stravinsky, art by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, and films by Michael Haneke. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how music, art, literature, and film work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected. Finally, while each of the essays is unique in style and methodological approach, together they show the way toward a unified knowledge of artistic creativity.


Frederick Luis Aldama

In 1959 when C. P. Snow famously declared the need for building bridges between “the two cultures” of the sciences and the humanities in order to make the world a better place, the impulse wasn’t so much ahead of the curve, but simply wrong. It wasn’t that in 1959 few knew how and where to build such bridges. the separation itself was a line drawn in sand—specious and artificial.

To understand why our work in the humanities matters, the scholarship presented in Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts shows just how we can wipe out that erstwhile line drawn in the sand that artifi cially separates the sciences from the humanities; that separates those disciplines deemed empirical and in pursuit of the universal (the “nomological”) from those considered speculative (even if analytical) and in pursuit of the idiosyncratic (the singular or “punctual”).

Whether we’re talking about mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology or psychology, literature, linguistics, philosophy, history, and classics, knowledge in each discipline advances along a continuum between the hypothetical and the tested and confirmed. the humanities are part and parcel of the knowledge the human species has acquired about itself over the centuries, together with the social sciences and the natural sciences.

Knowledge is acquired in many ways and may exhibit many degrees of generality, certitude, and power to predict the future. It can be the product of direct observation and a small number of general assumptions, or the result of a very elaborate and long chain of hypotheses and deductions. It can possess a rich factual content or be almost devoid of it, but it must always lead back to factual observations.

Indeed, it is the development of knowledge in the humanities that has . . .

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