This paper is inspired by the manuscript of Philip Kitcher’s forthcoming book Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach,
in which he offers a brilliant, philosophically inspired reading of Thomas Mann’s novel, as well as his views on the relationship between literature and philosophy. One of Kitcher’s claims, which is my starting point, is that philosophy can be done not only by philosophers but also within some art forms, such as literature and music. Within the literary text, Kitcher claims, philosophy lies in the showing and the text can influence the way readers think and perceive the world. Due to this claim, I see Kitcher as pertaining to the group of literary cognitivists. He offers some powerful arguments in support of the cognitive value of literature, although his approach is substantially different from the arguments usually put forward in defence of literary cognitivism. In this paper, my aim is twofold: firstly, I want to analyse the relationship between philosophy and literature with the aim of showing that despite some overlap between the two disciplines, we have to keep them separate. Secondly, I want to explore what ramifications this has for literary cognitivism.
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