The Greatest Literary Works

literary works documentation. essay on literature. student paper. etc

Borges and his philosophical short stories

Written by son of rambow on Sunday, September 19, 2010

Borges has some very philosophical short stories. For example Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is a story in wich the philosophic idealism of Berkeley is viewed as the common sense.

Quoting the blessed Wiki:

Through the vehicle of fantasy or speculative fiction, this story playfully explores several philosophical questions and themes. These include, above all, an effort by Borges to imagine a world (Tlön) where the 18th century philosophical idealism of George Berkeley is viewed as common sense[10] and "the doctrine of materialism" is considered a heresy, a scandal, and a paradox.[11] Through describing the languages of Tlön, the story also plays with the epistemological question of how language influences what thoughts are possible. The story also contains several metaphors for the way ideas influence reality. This last theme is first explored cleverly, by way of describing physical objects being willed into existence by the force of imagination, but later returns darker, as fascination with the idea of Tlön begins to distract people from paying adequate attention to the reality of earth.

Much of the story engages with the philosophical idealism of George Berkeley, who questioned whether it is possible to say that a thing exists if it is not being perceived. (Berkeley, an Anglican bishop, resolved that question to his own satisfaction by saying that the omnipresent perception of God ensures that objects continue to exist outside of personal or human perception.) Berkeley's philosophy privileges perceptions over any notion of the "thing in itself." Immanuel Kant accused Berkeley of going so far as to deny objective reality.

In the imagined world of Tlön, an exaggerated Berkeleian idealism without God passes for common sense. The Tlönian view recognizes perceptions as primary and denies the existence of any underlying reality. At the end of the main portion of the story, immediately before the postscript, Borges stretches this toward its logical breaking point by imagining that, "Occasionally a few birds, a horse perhaps, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater" by continuing to perceive it.[12] Besides commenting on Berkeley's philosophy, this and other aspects of Borges's story can be taken as a commentary on the ability of ideas to influence reality. For example, in Tlön there are objects known as hrönir[12] that arise when two different people find the "same" lost object in different places.

Borges imagines a Tlönite working his way out of the problem of solipsism by reasoning that if all people are actually aspects of one being, then perhaps the universe is consistent because that one being is consistent in his imagining. This is, effectively, a near-reconstruction of the Berkeleian God: perhaps not omnipresent, but bringing together all perceptions that do, indeed, occur.

This story is not the only place where Borges engages with Berkeleian idealism and with the related 20th century philosophy of phenomenology. Phenomenology privileges psychical phenomena over physical phenomena and "brackets off" objective reality as unknowable. In the world of Tlön, as in Borges's essay New refutation of time (1947), there is (as Emir Rodríguez Monegal and Alastair Reid comment) a "denial of space, time, and the individual I."[13] This worldview does not merely "bracket off" objective reality, but also parcels it separately into all its successive moments. Even the continuity of the individual self is open to question.

When Borges writes "The metaphysicians of Tlön are not looking for truth or even an approximation to it: they are after a kind of amazement. They consider metaphysics a branch of fantastic literature,"[14] he can be seen either as anticipating the extreme relativism that underlies some postmodernism or simply as taking a swipe at those who take metaphysics too seriously.

Related Posts by Categories



  1. 12 komentar: Responses to “ Borges and his philosophical short stories ”

  2. By Anonymous on May 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    This is really interesting, You are an excessively professional
    blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look
    ahead to searching for more of your great post. Additionally,
    I've shared your site in my social networks

    My blog post ... Louis Vuitton Outlet

  3. By Anonymous on May 19, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    I am really enjoying the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any
    web browser compatibility problems? A small number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer
    but looks great in Opera. Do you have any ideas to help fix this
    issue?

    Here is my weblog; Gafas聽Oakley

  4. By Anonymous on May 22, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    At this time it appears like Drupal is the preferred blogging
    platform out there right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using
    on your blog?

    my website :: Oakley Sunglasses

  5. By Anonymous on May 23, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this site needs far more attention.
    I'll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!

    Check out my site; NFL Jerseys Cheap

  6. By Anonymous on May 25, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Fastidious answers in return of this question with real arguments and describing
    all about that.

    Also visit my blog post - Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet

  7. By Anonymous on May 26, 2013 at 1:42 AM

    If you are going for finest contents like I do, only pay a quick visit
    this web page daily because it presents quality contents, thanks

    Also visit my blog post Louis Vuitton Outlet

  8. By Anonymous on May 27, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very
    well written article. I'll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

    Stop by my web page ... Chaussures De Football Pas Cher

  9. By Anonymous on May 28, 2013 at 4:03 AM

    Keep this going please, great job!

    Feel free to visit my web site: www.explorethecapabilities.com

  10. By Anonymous on May 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance
    from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your
    own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I'm thinking about making
    my own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Appreciate it

    Here is my web page; Louis Vuitton Purses

  11. By Anonymous on May 29, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    It's appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest
    you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you
    can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!


    Review my site ... Abercrombie & Fitch

  12. By Anonymous on June 1, 2013 at 2:24 AM

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!

    ! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

    Feel free to visit my webpage Authentic Evgeni Malkin Jersey

  13. By Anonymous on June 1, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    you're in reality a just right webmaster. The web site loading pace is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you've done a magnificent
    job in this topic!

    Here is my website :: Abercrombie France

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment. I will reply your comment as soon as possible. I wonder if you would keep contact with this blog.

Quote on Art and Literature

    "There is only one school of literature - that of talent."
~ Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)



Want to subscribe?

Subscribe in a reader Or, subscribe via email:
Enter your email here:

Top Blogs Top Arts blogs

Google