1. Subology
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    Subology New Member

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    to philosophize, or not to philosophize?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Subology, Jun 20, 2012.

    I've spent most of my life reading either philosophy our pre-twentieth century literature. Neither the philosophers - obviously - or the pre-modernity style novelist's felt any shame is doing a little philosophizing.

    So are there any general rules on this? Is it frowned upon? Do publishers dislike it?

    I don't expect to get my writing published. It is, however, a dream. I'd sooner not compromise myself, even if I'm only compromising my fantasy of being a published novelist.

    Philosophizing: I don't see many contemporary authors doing it, and it seems to go against the 'show not tell' motto. Does anyone have any thoughts? If it's bad practice I'd sooner know; at least then I can work on refraining myself from self-indulging in it.

    Thanks in advance,
    Subology
     
  2. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    What do you mean when you say "philosophising?"
     
  3. simina
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    simina Senior Member

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    Philosophize!!!

    Writing seems so pointless to me if it doesn't introduce some interesting ideas. Of course it's important to disguise the philosophy by incorporating it in a character's inner-monologue, or something of the sort. But I think many new-ish writers have philosophical elements to their writing? Obviously, Sartre and Camus and those folks. Even Vonnegut comes to mind. But contemporary writers too, like Yann Marten and Jonathan Safran Foer (who actually studied philosophy in college).
     
  4. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    write what you love, that's all.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Go ahead and philosophize. It's a legitimate advantage literature has over film. In a story, you can show your character actually thinking about important issues (or at least, issues important to the character). But if you don't allow your character to think, to philosophize, you're probably nothing more than a film director pointing a camera at him, vainly hoping the reader can see the soul beneath the skin.
     
  6. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    What do you mean by philosophizing? If you mean incorporating actual ontological issues into fiction, then this is usually done in an abstract way so is not immediately apparent in most cases.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a good writer can get away with just about anything... so the answer to your first question is 'no'... and the answer to your other two is 'not as a rule'... whether it would be/they would or not, depends on how well you can write...
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you can philosophize without coming across as preachy, do so. But that is a huge IF.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go ahead, philosophize. Why not? Do it without coming across as preachy if you want a wider audience. (Although plenty of people from BOTH sides of just about every isle preach like they are perpetually at a pulpit and still get numerous like-minded fans.) I tend to think we philosophize in our writing almost all the time, often without even realizing it.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As others have asked, what do you mean by "philosophizing"? If you mean long essays on deconstructionism or epistemiology then they're going to be all but impossible to pull off in creative writing. If you mean the occasional aside about the way the world is, peppered through your work, then they can work well in adding colour to your writing but too much can be irritating (I chose the word "peppered" carefully). If you mean tackling major philosophical themes in your work -- well, everybody does that, whether they realise it or not, because the major philosophical themes are the major issues of life. If you've read a lot of philosophy you'll be in a good position to understand different sides in the conflicts your characters face, and as long as you make sure it always serves the story you can use that to make the work deeper and potentially more satisfying.
     
  11. Subology
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    Subology New Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys, I appreciate it.

    I think you know what I mean by philosophizing. Not axioms, treatises or dry phenomenological inquiries. I was thinking more about having the odd paragraph here and there that explains the character(s) situation a little more philosophically than would normally be expected. When writing in 3rd person, I'm a little reluctant to be too preachy. I'm basically pausing the story for a paragraph whilst I explain their motivations in more abstract (and hence universal) terms. I didn't know whether this technique appears too 'god-like'. I don't want my characters to look too much like puppets; I don't want their strings to be too visible.

    I'll try and write an example of what I mean.

    Thanks again for the advice,
    Subology
     
  12. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    It depends on whether or not you do a good job. Anyone read Eldest in that Eragon series? The author philosophizing is where I stopped reading.
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "It is a truth univerally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" sort of stuff? Yes, you can do a bit of that if you do it well. I'm reading a P D James novel at the moment that starts with the observation that temporary office workers don't have to deal with corpses on their first day often enough for it to be considered an occupational hazard. A lot of that sort of authorial interjection would get tedious, but a bit can be fun.
     

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