Vagueness is Huge

Jeffrey M. Perl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this essay review of Megan Quigley's Modern Fiction and Vagueness: Philosophy, Form, and Language (2015), the editor of Common Knowledge comments on the explicit relationship between that book's arguments and those of the journal's six-part series “Fuzzy Studies: A Symposium on the Consequence of Blur,” published in 2011–13. He points out that there are aesthetic forms and concepts of vagueness that are related only tangentially to what analytic philosophers, in treating the “sorites paradox” and its implications, have meant by the term, and he suggests that this book suffers by limiting itself to Anglophone works, when the most relevant work is perhaps in French, and by limiting its reach to fiction, when the most relevant genres of art are perhaps poetry, painting, and music. The review concludes by regretting Quigley's making T. S. Eliot her study's straw man and by observing not only that her interpretation of Eliot's relationship to analytic philosophy is demonstrably incorrect but also that there is no point in valorizing vagueness or “fuzzy studies” if the upshot is not a sort of mutual respect and acceptance that scientistic clarity in the arts and humanities does not foster.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)518-523
JournalCommon Knowledge
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2016 by Duke University Press


  • vagueness
  • fuzzy studies
  • Bertrand Russell
  • T. S. Eliot
  • sorites paradox


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