Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Justin E. H. Smith
Pages 9-27

What Is a World?
Deception, Possibility, and the Uses of Fiction from Cervantes to Descartes

In this short essay I will aim to show that literary fiction is consistently at the vanguard of the exploration of philosophical problems relating to the concept of world, while what we think of as philosophy, in the narrower sense, typically arrives late on the scene, picking up themes that have already been explored in literary texts that are explicitly intended as exercises of the imagination. I will pursue this argument with a sustained investigation of the shared aims and methods of Miguel de Cervantes and René Descartes.