The Self-Deceiving Muse

Notice and Knowledge in the Work of Art

By (author) Alan Singer

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 January 2013

Length of book:

240 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271048468

Current philosophical discussions of self-deception remain steeped in disagreement and controversy. In The Self-Deceiving Muse, Alan Singer proposes a radical revision of our commonplace understanding of self-deception. Singer asserts that self-deception, far from being irrational, is critical to our capacity to be acute "noticers" of our experience. The book demonstrates how self-deception can be both a resource for rational activity generally and, more specifically, a prompt to aesthetic innovation. It thereby provides new insights into the ways in which our imaginative powers bear on art and life. The implications—philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical—of such a proposition indicate the broadly interdisciplinary thrust of this work, which incorporates "readings" of novels, paintings, films, and video art.

“Raising the scandalous proposition that the ’self-deceiver’ should be seen less as the condemnable antagonist of Reason than as the perpetrator of the active imagination that gives rise to genuine aesthetic experience, Singer tests his claim with a series of brilliant arguments grounded in literary, philosophical, and art studies extending from familiar classics—Parmigianino, Tintoretto, Flaubert, and Hegel—to such moderns as Jeff Wall, Bill Viola, Gerhard Richter, and Peter Greenaway. The Self-Deceiving Muse should add significantly to contemporary debate on the relations between reason, aesthetics, and ethics in a language thoroughly conversant with recent critical theory.”

—Josef Chytry, University of California, Berkeley, and California College of the Arts