A bold and original argument for the cognitive relevance of literature in the modern world.
In Between Literature and Science Peter Swirski examines the true intellectual scope of Edgar Allan Poe and Stanislaw Lem. Using a genuinely interdisciplinary approach he shows that they propose far-reaching hypotheses in aesthetics, epistemology, cognitive science, philosophy of science, literary studies, and pragmatics as well as in cosmology, artificial intelligence, and futurology. Swirski argues that previous studies of their science fiction works, in neglecting these broader philosophical and scientific ambitions, have misrepresented Poe and Lem's artistic achievements.
Through close analysis of Eureka and The Purloined Letter, Swirski evaluates Poe's epistemological theses in the light of contemporary philosophy of science and presents literary interpretation as a cooperative game played by the author and reader, thereby illuminating how we read fiction. The analysis of Poe's little-studied Eureka provides the basis for his discussion of Lem's critique of scientific reductionism and futurological forecasts. Drawing on his own interviews with Lem as well as analysis of his works, Swirski considers the author's scenarios involving computers capable of creative acts and discusses their socio-cultural implications. His analysis leads to bold arguments about the nature of literature and its relation to a broad range of other disciplines.