This book explores concepts of rationality drawn from philosophy and the social sciences, in relation to traditions of literary enquiry. The author surveys basic assumptions and questions in philosophical accounts of action, in decision theory, and in the theory of rational choice. He gives examples ranging from Icelandic sagas to Poe and Beckett, and examines some situations and actions drawn from American and European fiction in order to analyze issues raised by contemporary models of agency. Challenging poststructuralism's irrationalist images of science, this innovative study crosses the boundary between literary and philosophical studies in a bold interdisciplinary spirit.
From the hardback review: 'Paisley Livingston makes a novel and valuable contribution both to the study of literature and to the theory of rationality.' Jon Elster From the hardback review: 'A powerful plea for realist literary criticism that challenges the assumptions of such major critical trends as deconstructionism, semiotics, and cultural studies, and offers a convincing alternative to their claims. Well informed and well-argued, it touches crucial issues in a provocative way and offers an original alternative to the dominant modes of critical discourse.' Thomas Pavel